We can take action to plant that writer-seed and watch it grow.
But how do we begin?
Some of us are drawn to language, its precious droplet words, the stringing together of each word-seed, the delights of their tiny power, the building sprouts of a phrase, a full flowered statement, and an entire field of thoughts!
We know we are meant to write. We feel energized by it. We are given this wonderful tool to be seen. And deep down, we would love to call ourselves a writer.
An Author would be even better, but let’s not get carried away just yet.
Interestingly, the only thing standing between the identity of being a writer and not being a writer is you. The day I said it aloud was the day I became a true writer. I wasn’t quite ready to look anyone in the eye, but I could at least say it loud enough to be heard. I looked down and shuffled one foot back and forth and mumbled, “I’m a writer.”
Then came the inevitable response, “Oh, what sort of things do you write?” and then the most painful question, “Are you published?”
Yes, I took the typical route for years. I journaled. I journaled in private. I journaled on the bus. I journaled all my angsty teenage years. I journaled when I was bored, angry, excited, and alone. Poems, Arguments, Stories, Memories. Then I promptly stuffed my journal away where no one else could see it. And it was good.
Nonetheless, I was keeping my writer seeds in the closet. No sunlight or air or soil could reach it.
Eventually, I shared my writing with a friend, then my sister, and finally a small writer group. They liked it. That helped a lot. I also listened to a lot of constructive criticism. I remained teachable.
One day, after years of encouraging my own students to write, and taking my own small risks, I met a man who happened to be an editor for a small, local newspaper. I had a degree in English. I had a minor in Professional Writing. I knew that did not necessarily make me a good writer. Somehow, I thought a writer had to wear a golden crown and be born of noble blood to reach the divine role of published writer. He caught me in a moment of sheer recklessness, and I asked him, “How can I write for you?”
He smiled and said, “Send me your stuff.”
Within two days, I emailed him the three editorial essays I had drummed up on a brand new blog, where I had little notion of what I was doing. I had removed the profanity and combed over it for any ideas I thought too edgy. It was a fairly conservative readership, and I was a messy girl. I mean, know your audience, right?
He selected one essay and published it. He did not change one thing on it. Then for the next two years, he entrusted me to maintain my own editorial column for zero pay. I wrote about what I knew, which was mostly on teaching and parenting.
Do you see? I took some steps. I journaled for years, which helped me develop my style. I started a blog – despite my serious lack of techie smarts. I let a few kind folks take a peek. Then I simply asked.
I was willing to write for free for two years because the experience was far more important to me than the pay. I already had a day job. But, man, did I love the role of being a writer in my own community! People would comment on my articles. When people met me, they were familiar with my column. I was a Writer!
I grew my little seedling self in a garden of print publication, with a nod toward the online world. What can I say? I was 49 years old before I called myself a writer. I had the privilege of watching our world move from print newspaper to online news. I rode the wave like everyone else.
Today, I thoroughly enjoy the open community publishers, like Medium https://medium.com/about, and Elephant Journal https://www.elephantjournal.com/. Sometimes I write stupid shit and the seed just sits there until its dead. Sometimes I manifest short-lived giant pink peonies!
Constant success is not what really matters. What matters is that now I know who I am, and part of that is what I am – a writer.