At what point do you justifiably begin to call yourself a thing? Some things are obvious; if you enrol in a place of learning, you’re a student. If you buy a house, you’re a homeowner. If you have a neckbeard, you’re probably a virgin. But if you say you’re a runner or an artist, for example, it sometimes feels as if there is an implied minimum skill level assigned to those “titles.” So when do you get to call yourself a runner? If you’ve gone running every day for a week? When you run your first mile without stopping? Or maybe your first 5k is the breakthrough moment. What is the concrete line?
I don’t know.
I’ve always written things. Of course, I’ve gone through quiet periods of nothing, just the same as I’ve gone through periods of not drawing, or not watching reruns of Scrubs, but while I’ve considered myself an avid artist and TV-watcher for years, I’ve never considered myself a writer. Heck, it took me until about three years ago to even consider myself an artist. It just seems like such an elusive title, something an amateur peasant like myself should shy away from if I’m not actively earning a living at it, or trying really damn hard.
And honestly, words like “writer” and “artist” come with a whole slew of imagined traits that I don’t have, like riding a bike in the city, or thinking everything is beautiful and worth talking about. I think that’s blatantly untrue. Look, you can take a video of a cat batting at a blanket, cut away to a picture of a clown, then go back to the cat except now there is a purple filter. You can give it a shitty vuvuzela soundtrack. You can say it was to make people uncomfortable on purpose and that you’re pushing the boundaries of art because otherwise how would we know what the boundaries even were? But it’s still shitty and you should not have gotten that government grant for your contrived experimental films, you asshole.
But I’ve written things since I was a small child. What a fool I was! At some point, something must have planted the thought that maybe I’d like to become a real writer. One that gets paid for it. And rudely, that idea started growing without telling me, until one day I woke up and watched an episode of Saturday Night Live and it was like this stupid idea burst out of my belly like some bastard Alien and yelled, “What do you wanna do with your life?”
I stared into space, and looked into the face of this terrible monster.
"I wanna live in a writers room in New York City, subsisting solely on coffee and takeout, get 3 hours of sleep a night, be on the verge of tears 98% of the time and lose weight due to stress! I think it might be fun!"
It’s too late for me. An unshakeable madness has settled over me like a heavy blanket in the last few months. I’ve been forced to write one hour, two hours, every day, by my own hand. I’ve lost control. It’s impossible to think about anything else. I am consumed with the need to write dumb jokes about white people. I am sick with the desire to create situations in which people react inappropriately for comedic effect. Every waking hour is spent imagining how funny it is when somebody sweats a lot because they’re uncomfortable (spoilers: very funny: 8/10).
If only somebody had warned me against hopes and dreams. You can’t eat hopes and dreams. You know what you can eat? Food. You know what gets you food? Money gets you food. Not hopes and dreams, that’s for sure. What am I going to do with all these hopes and dreams piling up? I have no room!
I am filled with notions that one day, I might be the one writing the words coming out of people’s mouths on the television. Friendly conversations might someday be peppered with fun phrases that came from my own head. Perhaps there will be T-shirts.
God help us all.