The boy on the train heading nowhere, or locked in his chamber squashing mosquitoes landing on his wall.
The 21st century boy who sees past the cars and video games and innovations, who still indulges in reading novels and going to poetry slams.
That boy harbors the dream of writing. He turns to the greats before him and treats them like his gods.
His books smell of incense, and he’s even offered sacrifices to the throne.
But there are others like him. Others much better than him. Others who were lucky enough to be born in a better environment, more suited for writing.
Others who practiced it since an early age. Others who spend entire afternoons writing long pages.
He came from a small place. That place was barely visible on the world map. It was a conflicted place – much like he was.
It was a war-infested, corrupted junkyard. But that didn’t faze him. He hid in the underground. He wrote in the underground. He lived in the underground.
The people became meaningless to him. The wars became meaningless to him. The political speeches became meaningless to him.
Living became meaningless to him. Cancer and every other disease became meaningless to him. Fear became meaningless to him.
All that mattered was writing. Those little moments spent in the car in a dark parking lot before going to work, stealing precious seconds to craft a genuine poem or a few lines of prose he will later be remembered by.
Those brief conversations he exchanged with girls that rejected him and never fell for his artistic side. Those times walking by the park and watching the kids kicking a soccer ball on the field.
These moments are eternal. Or rather, they are real. They only become eternal once they’re written down on a medium.
The kid understood it well. He understood the necessity and obligation of it very well. It was the single most important thing in the world – never mind if he ends up with volumes of saved work that nobody will ever read. The important thing was putting it all down. The right words had a funny way of always coming back to us and showing up, reviving lost memories we thought had disappeared forever.
Writing was simply retracing them, reviving old acquaintances or flames that had died in the new life. They were powerful enough to alter events and project us into another future, possibly a brighter one. And these things might all seem hypothetical or exaggerated or pushed to the limit, but they’re not as far away from us as we’d like to believe.
Just think about magic tricks. Think about the moment the illusion is executed and the crowd is sucked into the play. For an instant, you’re forced to believe in magic. You’re forced to believe it’s all true and real and possible.
Well writing is no different. And that’s not only true coming from an alcoholic writer. Writing doesn’t need alcohol or anything else to stand on its own. Its only other ally is solitude, and it’s the only thing capable of enforcing and extending it.
So you want to be a writer? Do the work. Close the gates when someone else is intruding. Drink if you feel you must. Cut ties if it makes you see the world more clearly.
Wipe the smudge off your car window. Honk in traffic. Breathe the air and soak under the rain.
Try weed. Try kissing a girl you don’t like. Try dating a girl you don’t like. Then try those things with the one you do.
Chase after things – science, art, music. Understand them deeply. Feel them even deeper. Let them run in your veins.
Watch movies. Hold hands with a child. Hang out with friends and strangers.
You want to become a writer? Write.
Read the great books.
Read the mediocre books.
And when you feel you’re losing touch with the world, when you feel your skin is growing paler, when you find yourself being forgotten or left out on your birthday or having your name mispronounced by the next door neighbor, then you’re getting there. You’re on the right track. When you seek loneliness in large crowds or in the company of another, then you’re pushing in the right direction.
Most people won’t see these things. Most people don’t hear strange voices in their heads. Most people don’t witness the characters of a book springing to life.
Because writers aren’t most people. And being one of them or calling yourself one means taking a step back from the human world.
That little boy dreaming of becoming a writer, sitting on a park bench every afternoon writing a page in his journal or hanging out with the bums in the clubs is not a hero. The heroes of this world are made to save it so the writers like that boy can write stories about them and become immortal.
He picks his words like apples from a tree…until the tree has no more apples to give and he’s harvested all the riches of the world.
So you want to be a writer? Then by all means write the small things. Write down even the most insignificant people. Write down the little silly thoughts.
Write the heartbreaks and the deaths. Write the crimes and the vile actions. Write the treachery and the mockery. Write about incest and rape. Write about every hard truth that comes across your eyes.
If you truly want to be a writer, then write from the soul.