Driving A Tractor Is Not Like Writing

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Each week, in the Books pages of the Life & Arts section of the Financial Times Week-end there is a small ‘interview’ with a writer. Last week it was the turn of Marina Lewycka (author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian).

This was the last question and response from the item:

What does it mean to be a writer?
It means that I’ve become what I always thought I was meant to be. In a way it’s a fulfilment.

It’s worth mentioning that Monica Lewycka was first published – after 40 years of trying – when she was 58.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ll know that the ‘meant to be’ part of her answer chimes with one of the major themes of what I write about.

For the FT, of course, the term ‘a writer’ is synonymous with being a professional published writer. This is the books pages, after all, so it’s perhaps understandable that they pursue a fairly narrow – but widely acceptable – definition of ‘a writer’.

As you know, on this blog the definition of ‘a writer’ is someone who writes. And keeps writing.

And I’m sure that Monica Lewycka during her 40 years of trying to be published considered herself a writer long before her manuscript for A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was accepted by the publishers.

When the book was published she no doubt felt an affirmation that she was, indeed, a writer.

But I suggest that writers feel like writers when they are writing, when they are doing what they feel they were meant to do. Publication is a potential reward but the writing goes on regardless.

Many years ago I was paid money – real pounds and pence money – for working on scripts for a TV series. Not for long and not a huge amount of money but it was enough to make me a professional. But here’s the thing: thanks to the 10KWC and the fact that I am now at 5,500 words each day, I can say that I have never felt more like a writer in my life.

And to shoehorn one connection – however tenuous – to Monica Lewycka into this post, years before working on the TV series, I used to drive tractors on a vineyard. (I didn’t feel like a writer then, either. I felt like a tractor driver.)

I know now that it is the act of writing – and continuing to write – that makes me feel that way. Not thinking about writing. Not reading about writing. Not writing sporadically – even if it means money in the bank. I can’t believe it took me so long to realise this.

Tell me what makes you feel like a writer.

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