Get ready for an unglamorous answer to a frequently asked question. The question being this:
“When did you know you were a writer?”
I’m working at Universal Studios, which means I’d been writing professionally for close to twenty years. For the last fifteen, I had worked consistently on some of the most highly regarded comedies on television, and I’d won some prizes.
I still felt uncomfortable calling myself a writer.
Yes, I’d been successful in the past. But what if I stunk things up the next time I wrote something? And every times after that? Would I still have the right to consider myself a writer?
Maybe I’d been lucky up till then. Maybe I’d caught some breaks and I’d fooled ‘em a couple of times. No way that made me a writer. A writer was, you know, a writer was…
I didn’t know what a writer was. I just wasn’t ready to say it was me.
I’m sitting behind my large, oak desk, in my enormous Universal Studios office. Universal decorated those offices very strangely. Desks and armoires, seemingly lifted from some nineteenth century English banking firm. And foxhunting pictures on the wall.
It felt like some bewigged British businessman might walk in at any moment and proclaim, “The Carpathia has sunk. We’re here for the insurance.”
I’m writing a letter. I don’t remember to whom, and I don’t remember about what. I just remember writing it. And I remember it being, owing to its nature, entirely absent of comedy.
Maybe it was a “Thank you.” Maybe it was a request. Maybe it was a complaint about something. I do not recall. All I remember was finishing it, and then reading it to myself.
I liked what I had written. It was simple and clear. No extra words, no unnecessary flourishes. It was just what it was: Exactly the letter I’d intended to write.
That’s when I thought to myself, I believe, for the very first time:
“I must be a writer.”
And so I was.
Thank you for your recent encouragement and support. Yes, the ratings made my crazy too.