Here’s The Exact Moment You Know You’re a Writer And It’s Not Pretty

Sarah E. Miller
Jan 12, 2018 · 4 min read

You wake up out of a strange, unsettling dream and stare at the ceiling. You recall a dripping sound from an unknown source. That sound, you remember — your foggy head is still half in dreamland — it wasn’t a drip. It was more of a tap. Tap, tap, tap. You realize it’s the sound of your fingertips tip-tapping on your keyboard late into the night, and sometimes into early morning, right before the birds wake up. While the blue twilight filters into your room, you finally close your old and crusty eyes — crust only a writer can have.

The writing process is haunting you, you realize. You are haunted by visions of words, publications and phantom book deals. Once night starts scattering its stars across the sky, your fingers start to twitch. Your heart starts racing. You need to write. You need to write right now.

Okay, ‘need’ is a strong word, you think to yourself. You try not to use it often. Everyone is always accusing you of dramatics. Writing isn’t water or air after all, is it? IS IT?

Your right pinky twitches. That pinky loves pressing the shift bar any chance it gets.

When do you start counting the hours of sleep? Is it the time your head hits the pillow, or when your brain has expelled all of the ideas on a Google document or that stupid writers program you paid way too much money for?

You hear a ding and look at your phone. Your goddamn phone: the messenger of happiness or destroyer of worlds. It’s an email from a literary magazine you submitted to over six weeks ago. You gulp, tenderly holding the phone in your hand. It’s one of your favorites — you dream of the day you can put your own mark on such a life changing, revolutionary publication.

You click to open the email only to get immediately rejected. Your heart jumps out of your chest and falls onto the ground, flopping around like a beached dolphin, gasping for justice. This was your third time getting rejected by them, and your 57th time this year.

But who’s counting? WHO’S COUNTING?

You try not to bore your non-writer friends with this constant, never ending brain flurry of ideas and rejections, but you find yourself wildly talking with flourishing hand movements, while your friend slowly drinks their skinny latte in silence.

It’s not that they don’t want to care, they just can’t understand the terrible-wonderful freedom in your heart that is happening when you are writing. That you just may be a writer. You often don’t say it outloud, it reeks of pretentiousness, but you feel it shaking in your bones. It honestly makes you feel a bit barfy.

You have a day job that you don’t think much about. It pays the bills, puts food in your belly, and supports at least yourself and possibly a family member (or three). Your family is sometimes a funny source of material — and so are people who wronged you.

The person who found you repulsive in high school, the annoying co-worker, the terribly potent editor who rejected a book you wrote three years ago with such viciousness you fell into a depression for several weeks. These people you tend to make extra ugly in all of your character studies.

One day, you think to yourself, I’m going to quit and put all of my eggs in the writing basket.

When will that day be? Your gut asks, tapping its foot, with it’s gut-hand on it’s gut-hip.

Not today, I have to feed my cat, you respond, biting your lip. Perhaps you’ve said too much. You don’t even own a cat. Perhaps the world might catch on to your feverish writer secret.

The next day, you wake up out of your subconscious flying or falling — it’s always hard to tell which is which when you are a writer.

You get another ding on your phone. This time, the ding sounded like a little, microscopic angel fluttering its wings out from speaker.

“Guess what?” the little baby cherub said, smiling her sweet smile.

What? You jerk your head out of bed, looking around the room with wild, crusty writer eyes.

“Your article is getting published.” the angel chirps back, flying over to your forehead and kissing it ever so lightly.

“WHAT?” You wake up everyone in the house and start pumping your fist in the air, repeatedly. You felt like you just ran seventeen miles. You’re a millionaire now. No, a trillionaire. You call your parents, now retired and grizzled with age,

“Don’t you SEE? Won’t you take me seriously NOW?”

“Oh that’s nice, honey,” you get your first reply from a loved one and you find yourself deflated a little bit. The next one, “Never heard of that magazine” the next, “Ok, cool. Congrats?”

After a long day of dealing with insufferable fools, you look at yourself in the mirror. “You’re doing great, kiddo” you say to yourself quietly, so no one else can hear.

“You are making it. Someone said yes.”

You read the fine print and realize you are not getting paid for this submission. A readership of 10,052 facebook followers (that’s at least 9,987 more people than in your group, hey-ooo) and a failing magazine that will likely go out of print within the next year. You now notice the little glowing angel has shifty eyes and a little cigar in its lips.

“Hey, better than nothing, right?” She blows smoke in your face.

You sigh, drink your third cup of subpar coffee and put on your pants. You have to have some dignity, especially during days like today. You walk over to your desk and turn on the computer.

“Well,” you say, “It’s you and me, kiddo.” Tap-tap-tap.

Sarah E. Miller

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Writer & Creative Sidekick