Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I've always found it silly and cliche to call myself a writer.

"Hi, I'm Sarah Anne -- a 20-something volunteer addict who checks out more books from the library than she can read in a month, stresses over everything you can possibly imagine and more, owns a dog, is engaged, and has a bunch of other things she should be doing but is probably watching Netflix instead.

Oh, and I'm also a writer."

It's always an afterthought. Almost a confession, like it's embarrassing to admit because I, like some others, hear people say, "I'm a writer" and immediately do a silent eye-roll while smiling enthusiastically, "Oh, are you ? That's great!" Never asking their genre or subject or storyline. Never offering help or the tidbit about being a 5-star writing tutor for over a year in college. Just the internal eye-roll and the smile.

Let's just say I've helped with far too many terrible writing projects of which the author was over-proud and overzealous.

So now that I have this confession -- I'm a bit embarrassed.

I. Am. A writer.

Like many self-conscious and conflicted students of words, I keep it to myself. Mostly. And, I go through long periods of inactivity. Days and weeks and months of time pass without setting a pen to paper or fingers to keys, because writing? Writing really well?

It's exhausting.

And the thing about writing and writing well is that when you know how to do it, and you've seen all of the ways people go wrong. . .well. You get even more blocked than you did before. You edit as you go -- instead of word vomiting all over the page and saying, "Hell yeah, that's a plot hole -- Ima fix it on the next round. Deal with it." You get paraylzed by the need for just the right word; just the perfect way of expressing all that stuff swirling around inside your head.

Justice is served with the perfect word.

Falling short. Because it's an injustice to the story and the feeling and the experience if the words aren't just right. That's the main thing for me. I can't find the perfect word, the just-right piecing together of the dictionary's tenants into a party that screams THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE ONE!

The sentence of the year. The story of the decade.

It's not that I want people to think that the story is perfect. It's that I want how I feel and think to be expressed perfectly -- for myself. So I can represent all of the twisting mess of feeling and strangeness taking place inside my head.

Why else would I be awake at 3am every night? Unable to sleep because images that need description plow through my mind with reckless speed. Yet, I can't find the words. "Play on!" says Shakespeare, "Play on!" Like an old VHS recording on fast forward, my static-filled mind joins with him -- play on!

But there is Hamlet, standing with his now iconic skull, posed as the Boy in Black. "To sleep -- perchance to dream."

Dreaming isn't the problem. It's sleeping that makes no sense to me.

Because words, words, words are the real issue. Which one to use, which to strike from existence, weighing the options of this one and that one. Literally keeping me up at night. Even the placement is cause for grief. Put it there? Or over there? A comma? A colon? I use that form of punctuation (the colon) and think of cancer every time. Probably because someone I know died of it a few months ago.

What I'd write about?

I'd write about dad's cancer.

I'd write about our cancer jokes.

I'd write about how when I make cancer jokes in public, few and far between people get offended, saying angrily "You shouldn't talk like that, it's offensive!" and I shrug and say, "Well, seeing as my dad is terminal, it's kind of how we deal with it"; and then they just sit there, quiet, like dad is dead instead of dying.

I'd write about my own kind of cancer, the flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder episodes; silent killers that come out of nowhere like a poisonous viper and strike when the sun is out and you're in love and then WHAM. The snake bites your ankle while you stare at it wondering why you didn't see the thing lying on the pavement.

Plenty of colons and commas and heres and theres to satisfy even the pickiest of word readers -- unless of course you're including me in the bunch.

Reading is easy. Writing, and those who can accomplish it -- now, that deserves all of the glory.