I am not a plumber

My hot water heater died on a Sunday morning. I discovered this as I was stepping into the shower. (Very funny, Universe.)

Fortunately, I have a self-diagnosing hot water heater: E.110, it blinked. I googled the error message and found the air filter needs cleaning. Not surprising—the thing is five years old and that’s a lot of Fenway fluff floating around. A how-to video on YouTube told me to unplug the machine and then open it up and remove air filter. I couldn’t see an easy way to open it (the video demonstrated an older model than mine), so I plugged it back in: Voilà! No error code. And as a bonus, the heater started working again.

Of course, I still need to clean the filter—but I didn’t need to clean it immediately. I’ll call a plumber tomorrow, I thought. And then it hit me:

This is exactly what so many writers do when they start out. They think I’m not a writer. So they read a how-to book, highlighting all the brilliant suggestions.

But they never write.

And that’s kind of an important step, don’t you think?

My point—you don’t need me to tell you you’re a writer. And no book is ever going to tell you that, either. So you have to tell yourself. And believe yourself.

Perhaps it would be easier if you had a note from The Universe. So get out your fanciest piece of paper and write yourself a permission slip:

By the power vested in me, I hereby give [your name] permission to write whatever she damn well pleases.—The Universe

Or make a certificate:

[Your name] is hereby certified as a writer. Yes, a real one.—Sez Me (the Universe)

Sign it with a flourish. Slap on a gold seal if you have one. And hang it where you’ll see it whenever you look up from your computer.

Of course there’s a difference between writing and plumbing: A bad sentence won’t flood your house. So I probably will call the plumber. But I’m pretty proud I gave myself permission to try fixing it, albeit temporarily.

  • mindset
  • writing