I’ll reiterate what Michelle and Joanne have stated about mission statements: all great businesses have an ethos to which they’ll aspire to, one that states clearly their purpose as a professional entity. If Amazon and Google and General Electric and all other Fortune 500 companies have a mission statement, then why can’t writers? Writers are in a business: to entertain, to inform, to enthrall, and to keep customers coming back for more.
My mission statement isn’t quite as adventurous or ambitious as Michelle or Joanne’s, but I think it fits my ambitions pretty nicely:
I write because I am a writer. I write because my very existence depends on it. I write because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than write.
Yes, I’m giving myself permission to call myself a writer. And why shouldn’t I? I’m not a published writer as of yet, but that’s not to say that won’t happen. It will. It’s a matter of when, not if.
As I think more about my mission statement, I think about what being a writer can do for me, both personally and professionally. I think about the goals I want to set for myself as a writer, aside from the obvious goal of writing a novel/novella/short story collection, and seeing such published, whether it’s self, online, or via traditional print.
My goals (well, dreams, really) are somewhat humble, but allow me to share them with you, dear reader:
Earn a modest living as a writer – Of course, I would love to never have to work a 9-to-5 job again, but until I can earn a living as a writer making the same kind of money, I’ll have to keep my cube monkey status active. What I mean by earning a modest living is to earn the kind of money where I wouldn’t necessarily have to work a real job anymore. In other words, make enough money to keep me financially afloat, with a little wiggle room.
Teach a creative writing class – I’m of the belief that you can’t really teach creative writing, but you can bring out the creative writing gene in anyone. But, really, I want to do this solely because I’m needlessly romanticizing the notion of being a professor of Creative Writing. Honestly, I couldn’t care less where, whether it’s a local community college or the University of Wyoming or, dare I say it, the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
I even have my Standard Uniform ready: tweed jacket with elbow patches (don’t laugh), a pair of well-worn Levi’s 501s, and a catchy t-shirt emblazoned with some silly/snarky/borderline offensive/revelatory comment.
And you’ll thank me later when I proudly produce a generation of writers not influenced by Stephanie Meyer or whatever the hell the name of that woman is that wrote those “Fifty Shades of Whatever” books.
Win an award – I sometimes fantasize about winning either the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize. Why not, right? But then again, I also fantasize about playing the center forward position for Manchester United, or sharing the stage with Springsteen. Neither will likely happen, but a man can dream, can he? But an award would be nice, merely for the sake of recognition. It’s one thing to earn praise from friends and acquaintances; it’s another thing to earn praise from strangers you’ll never meet, or meet once and never see again. Call me a bit screwy (go on), but the validation from perfect strangers regarding my work seems far more important to me.
As for that National Book Award, if I do win one, my first reaction would be, “Clearly, someone there’s made a massive mistake.”
Be interviewed by Terry Gross – Seriously. This would be a far greater accomplishment for me than any award or an appearance on the New York Times Bestseller List. I love Terry Gross. I love the sound of her voice; that warm, slightly high-pitched, jerky voice, especially when she’s lost in thought and trying to get her question asked in a way that never seems condescending or ill-thought.
The only downside to that interview would be my inability to keep myself from geeking out. I’m not kidding. I don’t think I would be able to contain myself and keep from gushing, on air, how much I love Fresh Air. I listen to the podcasts just about every night.
I would sound deranged, and that interview would go over as well as Terry’s interview with Bill O’Reilly. I’ll be sure to load up on Lithium that day, though…
Terry, if you’re reading this…INTERVIEW ME!