If I ever travel far enough down the writer road that I pass the signs of Trying and Sort Of and When She Has Time, far enough that other people call me a writer as a statement of fact instead of ME calling me that as a statement of wishful thinking…And if I ever get asked to talk to other writers – those who maybe haven’t passed those signs yet and are still saying the word in a mirror rather than hearing it from others – this is something I will say:
I will make sure they know that not everyone writes for the same reason or with the same gift or purpose or little bag of talents that they are meant to grow. I will tell them this like I’m looking back in time at myself, back when I wondered if my journey was supposed to look like this person’s. Or that one’s. Or definitely, please, if there is any good in the world, THIS ONE, because their’s comes with fame and money and applause.
Some people say, “I knew I was meant to be a writer when I read my first chapter book,” or, “I knew it when my third grade teacher told me my stories were the best, or “I was in first grade, and I learned the letter A.” These stories aren’t really mine.
Some people knew it when they related to their favorite author. Lots of fantasy writers out there say this. They loved A Wrinkle In Time, Narnia, Harry Potter. And they knew they had to create their own world someday and people it with creatures of their making. But my favorite author wrote about a red-haired orphan who’s biggest dream was to wear puffed sleeves and maybe try ice cream for the first time. The path for following in the footsteps of an author who wrote contemporary fiction in an era we now adore because it’s not – well, that path isn’t terribly clear-cut. It took me forever to realize if I wrote anything like her stories they would be historical fiction, which isn’t the same at all to what she wrote.
Some people say they can’t go to sleep at night because their mind is so full of the voices of vivid characters living vivid stories. Hundreds of them. They have to write, just to get those things on paper for goodness sake so there’s room in their wildly creative minds for more. This story isn’t mine AT ALL. For the daughter of believers (and by believers I mean, in Santa Claus and fairy tales and It All Turns Out In the End), my feet actually grew up shockingly grounded in reality. I rarely took flights of fancy to worlds of my creation. My imaginary friends had all the same number of appendages and eyeballs as I did. And yes I had imaginary friends, but they pretty much just stood around and participated in my reality. I’ve learned in recent years this particular muscle needs some work in my writing.
But I have decided, irrevocably, that it doesn’t matter how or why any of those people want to write. It doesn’t really even matter why I want to. It only matters that I do want to. Wait. That’s not what I will say at all. It doesn’t matter that I want to. It matters that I do. If I don’t keep writing, I’m not a writer. Plain and simple. If I do keep writing, then I am. No matter where I am on the journey. No matter how many people realize I am there.