What Whoopi Goldberg Taught Me About Being A Writer

comment 1

There’s this part in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit where Sister Mary Clarence (aka Whoopi Goldberg) explains to one of her troubled students: “If you wake up in the morning, and you can’t think of anything else but singing, then you should be a singer, girl.” I remember asking myself upon first watching this movie circa its release in 2003, What’s the first thing I think of in the morning? In all honestly, I have trouble thinking in the morning, full stop. I usually set about my morning routine (shower, coffee, breakfast) in a zombie-like trance, before finding myself at work and thinking How exactly did I get here? But amongst all that, and randomly throughout almost every day, what I think about most is writing. When something funny happens, I want to write about it. When I overhear an interesting conversation, I want to write about it. When I meet someone new, I want to write about it. Then I hear Whoopi’s words of wisdom in the back of my mind: “You should be a writer, girl.” and I think You got it Whoopi – a writer I will be!

But here’s the harsh reality: I don’t actually know how to be a writer. I mean, I know how to write, and sometimes I write things that people enjoy reading (at least I hope I do), but I don’t know what makes a writer. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, which for some unbeknown reason remains a trusted source of information, “a writer is someone who has written something”. Well duh. According to this highly complex definition, I am already a writer. As is the person who wrote “Wanna fuck? Call me!” on the back of the toilet door at work.

If I officially became a writer at the age of 5 when I first learnt to write my name, despite the ‘y’ of ‘Emily’ being upside down, what am I stressing about? Here’s what: I don’t want to be a ‘writer’ like everyone else, no offence. I want to be a real writer – like Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Jack Kerouac. I want my travel writing to sit alongside Bill Bryson’s on household bookshelves. I want my books to be published in fifty languages, maybe more, like the works of  Gabriel García Márquez. I want my writing to be read, adored and shared, all the world over. I want to be talked about. I want to be remembered as a writer long after I’m gone. I just want to be goddam famous, is that too much to ask?

With my growing desperation to become a writer, I turned to some of my literary idols for advice. These are actual quotes:

“The first draft of everything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Write drunk, edit sober.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.” – David Ogilvy

“Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” – Lev Grossman

In my lifelong pursuit to become a writer, and in the name of Ernest Hemingway, I must drink more. I must write more, and I must think less. I must stop using semicolons (to be honest, I don’t even know how to use them properly; I was never taught). I must take myself less seriously which may be an impossible feat as I could not possibly take myself any less seriously than I already do for I do not take myself seriously at all. I must stop writing sentences like that for they do not make sense to anyone but me. I must never use the word ‘demassification’ for I do not know what it means and thus run the risk of looking like a complete idiot. I must probably come up with another way of saying “I must”.

So, are there any writers out there who can help me? The wordsmith behind “Wanna fuck? Call me” perhaps?


The Author

My name is Emily and this is a place where I write about all of the things I love (and sometimes the things I don't love). These things I love include all sorts of people: strangers, friends and family alike. And writing of course! I've never liked giving descriptions of myself, so you'll have to read my random banter in order to get to know me.

1 Comment

  1. I am definitely not a writer but I enjoy writing my blog. I enjoy sharing experiences with others and hopefully learning more about myself in the process. You need to find your own way too.

    Liked by 1 person

Tell me what's up!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s