In the middle of college, I had an internship at a midwestern publisher with an exclusively nonfiction catalog. I learned that there were certain books they were trying to find, ones that fit perfectly in their catalog. I half-jokingly offered to write one. I forget what on, but I was hoping they would take me up on it despite the fact that I was spectacularly unqualified. They did not, though I did write a couple of short pieces for books written by staff (one was dropped, the other ran but my name was misspelled).
I had the vague idea that I could write anything, and that I’d rather be doing that than not writing at all. I interviewed for a ghostwriting job. I got as far as writing a proposal once for a software instruction manual (it got a quick and pleasant reply that my writing and sample activity were great but they didn’t want to do a guide on that particular product). I wrote a few short role-playing activities for K-12 curricula. I think at one point I tried writing a role-playing game. It’s all a blur.
I couldn’t help but play “I could write that” if I saw an opportunity, and I still play the game. In an average week, I will speculate about a dozen different genres where I might fling myself next. I log ideas for board books about trucks while I push toys around with my son. I write grown-up stories in my head while I drive to work. I conceive of entire identities who will write erotic horror stories and publish them directly to Kindle. I sketch out ideas for novelty books (one, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Half-Assed Home Repair, is still on the back burner). I see a poetry contest and start jotting verses. I page through a cooking magazine and wonder if they take submissions over the transom. I frequently bookmark submission pages for august magazines or quirky websites where I’ll never actually submit anything or even write anything worth submitting.
Within the last hour I was reading the RFP for a nonfiction publisher and wondering if I should submit something (I have nothing TO submit) when my wife emailed me an article about a play we saw with our son. I saw that the children’s theater company was developing more plays for toddlers and thought, Oh, I Could Write That. (for the record, no I can’t.)
Rarely does anything come of these ventures*. I only ever started thinking that way because it would be a foot in the door, a credit, something to put in a query letter, or a way to make a little cash for creative writing even if it was a bit mercenary. My real goal was to write children’s novels. Now that I’m doing just that, you’d think I would stop playing I Could Write That. But I can’t stop myself.
*I do have something in the works which might pan out. More if/when it does.