On Writing and Not Writing

Last week, someone I was interviewing for a summer internship at Castle asked me if I was still writing. When I first started interviewing, I was surprised to get personal questions like this, but no longer; almost every job candidate I’ve spoken with has mentioned intensively online-stalking me before the interview.

My answer was the same shrugged “not really” I’ve gotten so used to giving. Sure, I spend the vast majority of my day with my fingers on a keyboard, pushing keys and making clacking noises, but most of that — emails, tweets, website copy, Slack messages — isn’t exactly writing. Or at least, it’s not what people mean when they ask me if I’m still writing.

I wrote, a lot, in college, and in high school, and before then, and even though I never moved too seriously towards making a career out of it, I’ve been thinking of myself as a writer from a very young age — so much so that I never stopped to reasses whether or not that description was still true. These words we use to define ourselves are at their core just descriptions, the noun form of verbs: a painter paints, a dancer dances, a writer writes. You can’t be the noun if you don’t do the verb. Yet it’s so easy to slip into believing that these words describe the people we are instead of the actions we take, that to be a painter or a dancer or a writer all you have to do is look a certain way, or hang out with a certain group of people, or maybe just think about painting or dancing or writing a lot.

If you think about something enough it even kind of starts to feel like you actually did it.

I would like to start writing things again. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll write about, but I think about things every day, and sometimes I tell those things to other people, and sometimes they say “that’s interesting” — so I suppose this will be kind of like that, except on the internet, and the people who say “that’s interesting” will exist mainly in my imagination, where they will be much better looking than they are in real life.

And so it begins!

— Max