The intriguing road to becoming a writer

By John Toth

I have made more money writing than doing anything else in my life.
I’m not saying that I have made a lot of money as a writer, but I have been doing it longer than anything else professionally.
The ideal writer, according to me, is someone who can put you in the middle of the story by painting a picture that allows your mind to see it developing around you.
An ideal writer is a wordsmith who can pull you into a story by carefully picking the words and sentence structure. A writer is someone who labors and agonizes over each sentence to make it as perfect as possible.
I have been writing for nearly four decades, but seldom in a way I have described above. I’ve always had deadlines, and now I do a lot of other things as well as write. I do not peruse each word, and I do very few, if any, rewrites. I would classify myself as a practical writer.
An ideal writer gets writer’s block. That’s when a writer used to look at a clean sheet of paper in the typewriter and wondered what words will actually make it from his or her head onto the paper. Now they must be staring at blank screens.
A practical writer doesn’t have writer’s block. When I worked at daily newspapers, my writings involved a decimal point.
If I make a mistake now, I just correct it (if I get called on it) on one of the back pages, and nobody sees it. I still look good. (Kidding again. All the pages in The Bulletin are important, but you get my point. The consequences of mistakes are a lot less in this business. And, we do face up to the very few that we make.)
So, halfway through engineering, I switched gears, got a BA degree in communications and started my writing career as a daily newspaper reporter. And, I started having a blast. Reporters may not make a lot of money, but they do keep busy and have a great time talking with people and writing.
It’s not writing as in working months or years to put together a near perfect story/novel that makes people excited, sad or happy for hours at a time. It’s writing as in let me finish doing this piece because I have a thousand other things to do. Which reminds me, I better wrap this up.
But one last point. Had I not embarked on this career, what would I have become? Have you ever asked yourself that? How different would your life be if you would have made a different career choice in your late teens or 20s?
I probably would have become a teacher of some sort, and I probably would have stayed closer to where I went to college. I may even have become a bus driver. I always wanted to drive one of those big Trailways or Greyhound buses, and I never have. The closest I have ever come is an RV, but it’s not as big as a bus. Or, I could have gone into politics. It’s always been a hobby of mine, anyway. Oh, well, you can’t do everything.
I’m through being a writer for now. It’s time to be a bookkeeper. See you next week.