How to Be a writer

By Sarah Essa

Supplies: sarcasm, alcohol, low self-esteem, pen, paper.

Step one: Discover your creative side in seventh grade. Write a poem about the burdens of being a child. 

Read it to your mother, storm up to your room when she laughs.

Step two: Meet girl with red hair who writes poetry and wants to get a tattoo. Become friends.

Step three: Puberty. Discover music about suicide and violence. Swear by it. Read. Start with the happy 

books, then the sad ones. Convince yourself it’s not unmanly to cry.

Step four: Cruise through high school. Wear a lot of black t-shirts. Let your hair grow out. Discover 


Step five: Write a sappy love poem for red-haired girl. Tell her it’s for her sister to avoid embarrassment. 

Introduce her to your friend Tom. Stop being friends with Tom. Write more poetry about the depths of 

your misunderstood soul.

Step six: Get a car for graduation. Get into a great school. Major in English. Tell your dad you want to be 

a teacher so the money keeps rolling in. Discover alcohol. Wreck the car.

Step seven: Decide to write something every day. Forget most days. Date a lot of red heads. It won’t be 

the same. Drink a lot. Drop out of school.

Step eight: Live at home. Do grunt work for your father’s company. Avoid eye contact with either 

parent. Visit the red haired girl. Tell her you love her. Drink when she kicks you out.

Step nine: Consider suicide. Drink. Consider suicide. Write. Tell yourself you’ll be a best seller one day 

and everyone was wrong about you. Drink. Decide you have a drinking problem.

Step ten: Grow up. Go to AA meetings. Go to night school. Get a real job with your new degree. Go to 

red haired girl’s wedding, give a toast. Tell everyone what a great couple they are. Forget steps one 

through nine. At office parties, tell people you used to be a writer.