This is me with James Blake. He’s cute, huh?, and smart as hell, and a work-horse on the tennis court. I loved him with his dreads, I love him bald; I loved him winning, and even better losing. He’s a phenom with a story. And I want to write a sports memoir.
I’m putting this out there: are you an athlete looking for a writer? I’m right here. James, I’m talking to you. Maria Sharapova, do you feel misunderstood? Elena Dementieva, Andy Roddick, Phil Mickelson, Annika? You tennis players and/or golfers who want to tell your story, I’m your ghost-writing dream. Man or woman. Call me.
I’m a writer. It took me a long time to say it without hesitation, but this is how I identify myself: What do you do? I’m a writer. It slips right off my tongue — sometimes like summer honey, sometimes like snake venom, but either way it slips out pretty easily these days. Baptism by written word. Go forth and type!
I once read a book, I think by David Morrell, where he said (basically) Never Tell Anyone You’re A Writer. You’ll inevitably get those painful responses like, “I’m thinking about writing a book!” and “I’ve had the most awesome life, you should write MY story!” To which I always want to say, “I can use scissors pretty well, I’ve been practicing, wrapping presents and whatnot, and I’ve been thinking about neurosurgery. Think I can practice on you? Asshole.”
But recently it’s not been that at all, it’s been a bit weird, the tattle-telling of my profession. At a new doctor’s office, he might read my chart and say, “You’re a writer,” and blush before asking, “What do you write? Where and what have you published?” I answer, and then more blushing and questions. They can hardly look me in the eye. Like I’m the most interesting person they’ve met. In years. I can’t even tell you how much I love this, this validation. It makes me all warm and mushy in my innards, like cream of wheat.
It won’t last. I know this. But for now I’m taking it for granted because pretty soon someone’s going to tell me that they, too, want to write a book, and I’m going to want to strangle them with barbed chicken wire while smiling and nodding. But for now, for this week anyway, I’m a writer. Unless I’m sitting next to you on an airplane — then I teach Middle English Poetry or Differential Calculus.
P.S. James Blake wrote a memoir a few years ago. It was terrible. I’m thinking more along the lines of J.R. Moehringer’s writing of Agassi’s book, OPEN.