The Velveteen Writer

Jul 29, 2014 | Better Writing

The Velveteen Rabbit is a more than a classic children’s book.  I’ve heard passages from Margery Williams’s book  incorporated into wedding ceremonies. I often find myself recalling some of the book’s wonderful cadences and I relish the opportunity to read it to my youngest grandchildren.

The other day, I was thinking about the book and I realized that the way most of us become writers is the way the Velveteen Rabbit became real. What follows is homage to Margery Williams and her marvelous book.

In my version of a classic passage, a Scribbler wants to find out how to be a Real Writer. That sparks the following conversation.

“I want to be a Real Writer,” said the Scribbler. “But I guess you just have to be born that way.”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Writing Coach. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When you write seriously, for a long, long time, then you can become a Real Writer.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Scribbler.

“Sometimes,” said the Writing Coach, for he was always truthful. “But when you want to become a Real Writer, you don’t mind being hurt because you work at learning from every experience.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” Scribbler asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Writing Coach.

“You become. You have to learn to write by writing and it takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who give up easily, or need lots of praise, or who want to become famous.

Generally, by the time you are Real Writer, you’ve learned to love the craft of writing even though you’re not likely to make a lot of money at it. And you’re always thinking about how to use a situation in an article or post or book.

Most people won’t understand you and think you’re silly, but that won’t matter at all, because once you are a Real Writer you can’t be silly, except to people who don’t understand.”