Writing has always been something I’ve done. When I was in my mid-teens I tried my hand at songwriting. Then in my late-teens I started with simple novel ideas (and yes, a few fan fictions), as well as trying out my hand with freestyle poetry. For many years in my twenties, writing became nothing more than occasional journal posts. During that time, it was a shadow of my past. It was something I used to do, and in some vague sense of the word, missed.
I would call myself a writer, and feel that twinge, that deep pull from my soul to make it true. Of course, I brushed it off. It was a way I liked to classify myself, because I thought it made me sound more artistic and well rounded. I spent one semester in college on a literary magazine, published a piece and enjoyed my time. I didn’t take the time to hone my craft, because I wasn’t serious about it. I was just something I did when I felt heavily inspired.
The writer in me waited and watched. I’ve always viewed the world through an artists eye. I’m a photographer too, and if I wasn’t wondering how something would look through a lens, I was wondering how to describe what I saw on paper. Ever observant, drawing on experience, the writer in me waited, and waited some more.
Until a year and a half ago. I don’t know what shifted, but a story came out of nowhere. It wasn’t the novel I’d hoped to make my first, the same novel I’d started and stopped what seemed a hundred different times since I was 18. Yet, try as I might, that story wouldn’t come to me.
This new story did, like a gently flowing brook. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote on paper, on my phone, in my e-mail. I wrote wherever and however I could, because the ideas didn’t stop. Even though I talked to my friends and family about what I was working on, it didn’t feel serious. It was just … something. A way to be creative, or pass the time, whatever. It meant very little to me, at first.
Then it started to become my baby. The characters flushed themselves out, and they took up a spot in my heart. The story started to get told, the way it needed to be told, not the way I originally intended it. Even though, knowing I was working towards an end goal of finishing the novel, I wasn’t focusing on what might be next. It still wasn’t hitting me.
A writer needs their work to be read, by someone. They need their work to be cherished and loved, by someone. Books have had a near indescribable effect on my life. They’ve saved me, kept me going forward when I wanted to give up. Characters on paper breathed life into me. Words, strewn together by an author I’ll likely never meet, made my soul sing with recognition. Yes, I’d say, this is home. These words, these stories that I’d go back to time and time again, they spoke to me. The writer in me, still mostly buried, would cry out. That voice would try and remind me that I wanted to be that. I wanted to do that, write that story that would have the same impact on someone else that some books have had on me.
Now, I’m not quite sure it’s this novel that will do that. But I did realize something else. I am a writer, it’s in my blood and my spirit and it’s all that I am. I’m not defined by what I do for work, or what my hobbies are. I’m defined by who I am. I am a writer. I am stubborn and free-spirited, sarcastic and a little blunt. I will do anything for people I care about, but I know the pain and challenge of walking away from people I would have done anything for, but now no longer. These are ways I’ve defined myself before, the things that made me, well, me. Now I add writer to that list of things I AM.
Until recently, I wouldn’t have defined myself as a writer, but now I will. I will because I am. This past month has been a journey for me, one that’s turned my brain to mush, but pushed me towards a long held dream. I reached out to an editor, I reached out to writer friends of mine. I created a twitter account (something I was sure I’d never do), and started this blog. I started doing things to create a name for myself, an online presence because that matters these days. I made up business cards. I actually did things that might help. This novel wouldn’t just be something I worked on and never shared. This novel would be the first of many novels, and I’d do it right. I’d get it polished and properly edited. I’d make it something, because it’s a part of me and why should’t I do something with that?
Every novel I write will be a piece of me. Maybe it’s a piece of my past, or a piece of what I’ve learned, but it will always be a piece of me. There will always be that one character I identify with more than others, and there will always be a character I will maybe sort of wish I was more like. Even as I write them, there are characters I hate. Characters I wish I could write in a different way, but that’s not the way of things, is it?
I’m not perfect. I don’t focus on the technical aspects when I’m in the creative mode, because it’s destroys the creative flow. Not all writers are this way, but I am. When I’m done, when it’s al connected, that’s when I can go back and look at it from a different angle. Even then, well, I’ll likely always be the author that needs an editor to help me. That seems to be a lot of writers, even the really big name ones, so I don’t feel as bad that I’m lacking in the technical department.
To me, it feels more important to get the story told. I can always fix it later, and not being perfect won’t stop me from writing. I hope I never stop writing, ever again. I don’t think the long list of characters screaming to be heard, to have their story told, will let me. I’m grateful for that.
So here’s to dreams, and recognizing what makes your soul sing. I am a writer, and one of these days, I’ll update this blog with news that I’m going to be published. Somehow, someway, I’m going to do it. Not just because I think it’ll be cool to add published author to my social media pages, but because it’s who I am, and it’s what I want to do. Write. Always.