If nothing else, this should prove the truth of my recent tweet: “The easiest thing about writing is thinking of ways not to.” Because if there were ever a good excuse for not writing, being able to say “I’m the President of the United States and I’m too busy to write,” has to rank near the top.*
On the other hand, writers have a lot of qualities that one would want in a president. Let’s see now…
- We’re patient. We’re used to fighting great odds for a long time without any apparent progress.
- We plan ahead. Okay, some of us operate by the seat of our pants, but by the time anyone else knows it, we’ve finished the job and made it look seamless.
- We know how to listen. Writers don’t write books, characters do. We just transcribe.
- We can take criticism. Actually, we don’t have much choice, but then neither does the president.
- We’re used to bad press. Not every review is positive, and we learn to ignore them. If this seems inconsistent with no. 4, then…
- We can handle contradictory ideas simultaneously. One beta reader wants the story to go this way. The other wants the story to go that way. Both might be good, but which is better?
- We know when to stop. Sometimes a story near and dear to your heart just isn’t coming together; you have to be able to put it aside.
- We can work with co-equal branches. You can negotiate with an editor, but you can’t ignore him.
- We’re not too proud to accept help. Amazon reviews! Please!
- The buck stops here. If something isn’t working, there’s no one else to blame.
So the next time someone tries tempting you with politics, you can say: “I’m a writer, and I’m too busy to be President of the United States.”
*If anyone can find an actual instance of a president ever having uttered this sentence, I’ll buy you an ice cream cone.