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White trash in the trailer park of words

Little known fact: Gnomes love Apples.

Little known fact: Gnomes love Apples.

I didn't grow up wanting to be a Copywriter. I did believe that I would write, that was never even a question. If and when I pictured my future, I pictured myself as a writer (and as a teacher, for some reason, which I've done from time to time with mixed results). I didn't always have a clear vision of what being a writer would look like, but I knew that was something I wanted to be. I wanted to have a book with my name on the spine, wearing a groove into its particular library shelf after being repeatedly grabbed, read, and replaced for the next lucky reader.

I think that's what I had in mind. Truthfully, I don't remember the particulars. I just remember discovering that I could  write, that I liked  to write, and it hit me, somehow, that all the books I was reading were  written. I wanted to be the one writing them.

Of course, I fell under the same malady that a lot of writers fall under. It's best summed up with this quote: 

"I hate writing. I love having written."
—Dorothy Parker

Writing can be tough. It's work, after all. Quiet, lonely, isolated, time- and attention-consuming work. Do I relish sitting down to the keyboard or putting pen to paper, knowing how much work I have ahead of me? 

Well ... yes. But not always. Sometimes I'm uninspired, unenthusiastic, unimpressed. It's less of a "writer's block" and more of a "soul block." I want to write, but at those times it's like dragging words out by their hair, like an episode of "Cops," set in a trailer park where words live, where paragraphs may bully and beat sentences until they're too afraid to stand alone, and punctuation hides, screaming and wailing in the corner, mucus dripping from their tiny little noses.  

So when a writer (even Dorothy Parker, I'm sure) says that they hate writing, that's likely the part their talking about. Because sitting down and jotting off a story that flows like fine wine into crystal is the fun  part, but real writing  is what happens when you have to drag those words out and beat them down in front of a camera guy and an audience that watches for the sheer entertainment of seeing folly.

When I became a Copywriter, it was out of necessity. I needed money. I liked eating, had become accustomed to it, and wished to continue in that lifestyle. I needed something that I could point to as proof that I wasn't a damned liar, and in fact I did make a living by jamming words together in meaningful ways thank you very much . I became a Copywriter because it was closer to the mountain, as Neil Gaiman put it.

Do I want to be a Copywriter? Sure. I like the work. It's interesting. 

Do I want to be a Copywriter forever? No, of course not. It's not that interesting. 

And in fact, I'm starting to see the corners peel up on the veneer of this career. Copy is sort of ... repetitive. It's called copy for a reason, after all. It's me, using my writer's brain and skill and passion, over and over again, to come up with clever variations on the things I've already said a thousand times. Sometimes, in the transcription, there are little errors that I can polish to brilliance. Sometimes, though, the paint just looks scratched and dull and maybe a little overdone. 

I was born to write. I don't doubt that at all. I prove it by doing it, every single day, without fail. I don't take a break for birthdays or Christmas. I don't take vacations from it. It is  the vacation, most of the time. And whether it's writing ad copy, writing a book, writing a short story, writing an article, or just writing an email to a friend, it's work I do because I'm driven to do it, and I make it better and better as I go because that's what you do when you're obsessed.  

But books ... being an author of books, writing and polishing and completing and publishing books ... yes. Yes, that's what I do. I'm a writer because I write. I'm an author because I dream.  

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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at


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