Clean the Toilet and Become a Writer

I cringe when I think of how many MFA (Master of Fine Art) graduates in writing universites are flushing out.  Open any writer’s magazine and the ads are chuck full of these programs.  To the brim.

It bothers me that all these fresh young things graduate from college and instantly enroll in MFA writing programs expecting to write the great American novel.

Where is the experience?  Where is the life lived?

I’d argue that an auto mechanic who has 10-15 years out of school with a strong desire to write has a better chance of writing the great American novel than a fresh faced newbie right out of grad school.

You have to live your life and digest your experience before the words can percolate through your system and be transformed into the fruitful manure of stories.  Notice I didn’t say shit.  There is enough of that out there.

You don’t need any degree or any program to make you a writer.  In fact, it may debilitate you in the long run.  I am always reading about editors complaining that this program or that program is putting out similar types of writers who write in very similar styles.

All you need to become a writer is a desire to write.  And as you progress through life you may wind up writing that great American novel.

I used to clean expensive homes that were rented to vacationers on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I did not mind cleaning toilets.  What bothered me was picking up the trash of people who went on vacation.  It would reduce me to tears, and on a few occasions, heaving sobs.

The people on vacation would throw their garbage will nill into the garage, barely bagged, where I had to collect it, put it in my Jeep, and take it to the dumpster miles down the road.

This job taught me that people on vacation do not think of the person that will picking up after them.  On vacation they are suddenly reduced to spoiled two year olds without their mommy telling them to make sure they GET IT in the trash, Dear. 

But I can harvest this for my writing.  I can use this crap and turn it into the compost which my characters will grow out of.

And I’m a richer person for it.

Photocredit:  © Ellen Wilson

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