When I give readings or do author talks, I always leave time for questions. And two come up repeatedly: how old are you and what do you like best about being a writer?
Until now, my answer to the latter has been twofold. I’m most thankful, I say, that I can write in jeans and slippers (there’s something incredibly freeing about not having to pluck, mousse, iron, and endure heels before plonking down at the desk). I also tell them that I love spying on people at the grocery store! And I do. Character is truly revealed in the generally mindless acquisition of food (is my subject wearing sweats or silk? Buying Kraft dinner or quinoa? Do they stack and toss? Smile or glare? Rush or linger? Treat the cashier with kindness or indifference?)
However, in the spirit of American Thanksgiving which is being celebrated south of us today, I’m pondering the question of thankfulness more deeply.
I am most thankful to be a writer because:
I can ask questions of anyone, anywhere, and at any time, all under the guise of research (although I do refrain at weddings, funerals and during bikini waxings).
I have a valid excuse for an extra twenty pounds since writing requires sitting for many long hours (given that I’m lusting after a treadmill desk, this sentence is subject to revision).
I get to read. A lot. And this I can do on a treadmill or an elliptical. At a stop light even. Until the guy behind me honks.
I can write anywhere and at any time. Though I don’t recommend mixing laptops and hot tubs. Especially after midnight. Trust me on this.
I set my own hours which means I can get a root canal in the middle of the day or drive on a school field trip to the Bug Zoo. And I don’t have to ask my boss.
I am always learning. Fun, neat facts like ‘intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair’ and ‘women blink twice as many times as men do.’ Without these random bits of trivia my life would be seriously incomplete.
I don’t have to draw, not covers, not inside art. (Everyone else is thankful for this too, believe me.)
I get to experience the thrill of the unknown twice a year when the royalty checks arrive in the mail.
I am expected to daydream. Staring into space for long periods of time is mandatory. And my family understands that even when I look like I’m paying attention, sometimes I’m not.
I play every single day. And that, really, is the thing I am most thankful for. I play with words, with worlds, with people and emotions. In my slippers, on my laptop, at the gym or in my office. I play. Only everybody else calls it work.
Why are you thankful to be a writer?