Lots of you write to me and say that you would like to be writers, too...
It’s not the easiest job to get—you’ll never find it in the newspaper in the help wanted section. Remember that list of all the jobs I’ve done? All writers have weird jobs, at least for a while. We call them our day jobs, and we do them so we can pay for things like groceries and a place to live (we call those the pesky details). What writers really want to do is write—but eating is fun, too.
When we first moved to Tallahassee I had not one, but two day jobs, both in libraries. At night and on weekends I worked at the public library checking out books, issuing library cards, directing people to the restroom. By day I worked at Florida State University, buying books for the library’s collection—at least I was spending time around books. But I was so busy handling other people’s books I didn’t have much time to write my own. I would get up before five to write, then dress really fast and go to work. I’d write on my lunch hour. At the public library there were ten minutes at the end of the shift when the workers would gather before being dismissed. I’d write then. To become a professional writer, it helps to be good at it—but what you really need is determination.
One of the best things that can happen to a writer is to quit all the day jobs and write fulltime. I was able to do that in the Fall of 2001. Now I write and visit readers in schools and libraries. The visits aren’t like work. I love spending time with kids—and some of my best ideas come from the visits. Did I mention that writer’s steal? Maybe steal is the wrong word?
If you want to write, you have to get your raw material from somewhere, so pay attention to the world around you. Take notes. Keep a journal. Write regularly. And don’t give up. Being a writer is the best job in the world. Honest.