I am not a writer. Not only am I not a writer, I’m not even an adult. I’m a fraud. I’ve been faking the adult thing for the past thirty years or so, but the writing gig? That’s pretty new. And sort of happened by accident, or at least by someone else’s design. It’s kind of an interesting story…
When I was doing my undergraduate degree, the primary consideration when choosing classes, besides building a sweet timetable, was to not take any course that required writing an essay. Give me an exam any day. I had no idea how to articulate my ideas in writing, let alone structure an essay properly. A thesis statement? The concept was totally beyond me, it just didn’t compute. That may make me sound like I have some serious learning difficulty but I actually was a very good student throughout my school career, at least in subjects that had concrete answers. If writers sometimes suffer from writers block, well, my whole life I had the Berlin Wall of writers blocks.
Then in my late thirties after my third child was born, I decided to get my Masters degree while I was working part-time. Surprisingly, I found that not only did I enjoy the writing exercises, I got really positive feedback from my professors about content, clarity, argument, structure, in short, all the aspects of writing that previously had me flummoxed and running scared. This did not make me think I was a writer in any way but it certainly chipped away at that colossal block.
Fast forward three years, Masters complete, no reason to write anything beyond lengthy emails to friends but those peter out because others prefer chatting on the phone to writing. Summertime, off work for several weeks and one night I have a dream about writing a book, complete with a title and a first line. It struck me as strange when I woke up but thought nothing more of it. Then I had the exact same dream the next night. Always one to believe in signs, I wrote down the first line and figured I’d just see where it went. Well, the story just took off and flowed out of me. Four weeks and I had the first book of what quickly became a three part series. Granted, it is a fictionalized account of my life so the content part of things was fairly straightforward but overall I was really pleased with the first draft. Partway through writing that first draft I was going through old journals and when I grabbed the one from the year where my story starts, it fell open to a page where I wrote about how much I would love to be a writer – I was floored.
The writing got put on hold partly due to health reasons but also because in order to write the second book, I had to face and talk about some embarrassing and difficult events in my life. So for two years I didn’t look at my book but I never stopped thinking about it, just letting all my thoughts and questions and fears percolate through my head, reading as many books as I could to see how authors do things, effectively or sometimes less so. Then I read the memoir of someone I know and inspiration hit to look at it again, revise the first draft and continue the story. So that’s where I am now.
So you see, I’m not a writer. A real writer has an insatiable need to write all the time, and wants other people to read what they’ve written, at least that’s what I’ve always thought. I have an insatiable need to tell this particular story, and now that I can no longer do my job I have the time to devote to it. I’m not sure I’ll ever find the courage to let others read it but at the same time I think it’s a story worth sharing. We’ll see…
I’m just a person faking it till I make it like everyone else. But then, who gets to decide? What makes a writer? When and how do you qualify?
In the words of Bryan Hutchinson from positivewriter.com:
If you write, you’re a writer. If you’re a writer, you have the right to write a book. Period.
Well, okay then. Thanks Bryan!