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.