‘Twas a regular Tuesday, at my regular bar, playing pool with another regular human. Both recent transplants to California, my new friend and I bonded over similarly frustrating job hunts in the creative industry. He more of the graphic design persuasion, and lucky to have companies like BBC and Microsoft on his resume, had accepted some one-off contracting jobs but had yet to find a great spot to land permanently. I, of the editorial ilk, had had much less luck.
As he rounded the pool table to take another shot, he asked “Do you write for fun?”
I hadn’t. Not in a very long time.
With varied journalism/advertising/communications roles over the past decade, I’d come to see writing as something that helped pay rent, or as Matt Bellassai so eloquently stated, ‘turn hard work into chicken nuggets.’ Writing had lost its appeal as recreational activity.
Then I stumbled across Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor. The memoir details how the author found her voice by diving deep into the stories that matter – those times when she was afraid, when she made an unpopular decision, and when she failed. Those are the stories that got my attention…and the stories that I realized I should have the balls to write too.
Each chapter is closed by a series of writing exercises, which, admittedly I haven’t completed, but did take a screenshots of before returning WIMD to the library. I suffer (enjoy!) book hangovers, and want to marinate in the overall message before reheating WIMD’s leftovers.
If you’ve found this book, you fancy yourself a writer. As a writer, I guarantee there’s been stretches where you haven’t actually written much more than your name on a restaurant’s wait list or at the bottom of a check.
We deserve better than that. You deserve better than that. I know I sure as hell do. Whether it’s taking a stab at Theo’s writing exercises, thinking through a few fiction prompts from The Writer’s Book of Matches, or committing yourself to National Novel Writing Month (and if you haven’t yet, try it!), you owe it to yourself to write.
If you’re only writing for others, you’re missing the point. Write the things you want to read. Write to push yourself. Write the stories you’d be embarrassed to show your mother. Whatever it takes to find your voice, do the damn thing.
Find Theo’s blog at WritingisMyDrink.com.