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Amy Koko Headshot

What Being a Writer Requires

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I am a writer.

Sometimes I just have to see the words so that I can make myself believe it. "Is it okay to call myself a writer?" I ask myself daily. What is it that actually makes me one? I mean yes, I have a writer's home office with a painting of people on the beach, because, well, I love the beach. Of course I have a MacBook Pro lap top with a zillion writing apps, of which I use one. I have a copier and scanner so that I can send pages to my writing coach to review and print out my latest chapters for my book group. I have all these things but I'm not sure if that's what actually makes me a writer.

It is a solitary profession but perhaps that's what draws me to it. On the outside I appear to be a social person. I love a good party, or should I say I love the idea of a party. I love deciding what to wear (how many more times am I going to try to cram myself into my 2009 Rich and Skinny jeans before I realize that ship has long since sailed?) I love driving to the party and anticipating who I will run into. My mouth waters as I see myself being handed my first cold glass of Chardonnay for the evening. I take it gracefully and move elegantly through the crowd, tossing a greeting here, an eyebrow raise there, before holding court by the appetizer table.

Then I get to the party. I get my anticipated glass of Chard and immediately retreat to a place where no people are and wish I was anywhere else. Anywhere. It's all I can do not to go and stand facing a wall. Many years ago when my daughter was two, I walked into her room to find her drawing happily on her walls. She immediately sensed my disapproval, turned to me and yelled, "Don't SEE me!"

That is exactly how I feel at a party. "What's new?" people will ask. "What are you working on?" "Are you published yet?" Not much, same stuff and no. I would rather be in my office surrounded by my things with my big stinky dog at my feet, my fingers flying across a keyboard. However, many days I sit in front of my computer just staring out the window. "Think!" I tell myself. "Think. Think. Think! Write something! Idiot! " Then I see the ChemLawn guy outside spraying carcinogens all over my grass and try to remember when my last mammogram was. From there I may go to Google and search environmental toxins and breast cancer. That leads me to my junior high boyfriend Tony Magill that I heard years ago had become a doctor. Four hours of Facebook later I can call it quits for the day, reassuring myself I really did try. Wasn't I in front of my computer all day?

But then, there are the days when the words spill out and I almost can't stop them from coming. As I am writing, watching a fabric made of words form beneath my fingers, I am thinking "Everyone! You have to read this! This happened to me! I need to tell you about it!" and then, there it is... a tale. My tale.

So there is my answer. I do know what it is that makes me a writer... it is a reader. It is turning myself upside down, and inside out hoping that what I'm saying is touching someone out there, while I sit quietly in here, writing.