I am a writer. I denied it for most of my childhood, even as I babbled out re-tellings of fairytales or coined imaginative pieces regarding my Mother having an evil twin who hid under my bed. I didn't see it as anything special, but rather just something that I did without really thinking about it. It wasn't something I had to try to do, as though the words just flowed from my brain to my fingertips, which is probably why my parents and most of my teachers were aware of it way before I was.
I don't recall one exact moment where I finally figured it out. When I was in middle school, my poetry class was doing some sort of open-mic/coffeehouse type thing and I chose to read my free-verse, given that I believed it to be the best of all the assignments I'd done for my portfolio. It was extremely personal and I still am not sure what possessed me to read it in front of the entire grade, but I did. I had a lot to say, and this was one of the few ways I knew to genuinely express myself.
I finished the final stanza and walked offstage to a hundred or so loud cheers; teachers and classmates approached me afterward to tell me that I had brought tears to their eyes. Later on, I kept thinking back to people's reactions and how those words, my words, had affected them. In the days and weeks that followed, I constantly felt the urge to share my writings with other people. Each time I did, the idea that I could actually do something with it became more apparent.
As the years have passed, I do continue to write poetry, but I'm more so inclined toward fiction and non-fiction, especially personal essays. I'm not sure what genre I would categorize my work in, but I do see it as a cross between Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Piccoult. My writing style depends on what I'm writing about, along with what I'm trying to get at in the heart of the piece. It's not as cut and dry as it's made out to be; it takes a lot of discipline to be able to write your ideas down on paper, and then sit down and crank out the details on a regular basis or schedule. You have to be intentional about it and you can't worry about how crappy it will look for the first go-around. I tend to look at rough drafts as word vomit, where the focus is just getting it all out on paper.
The second and perhaps most excruciating half of it is workshopping/ proofreading. The first time I ever did a serious workshop was in my creative writing class during second semester. It can be daunting at first because the aim is to get honest feedback, and sometimes readers will be less than kind and more than willing to completely rip into the piece because they can. In other words, some are not shy about calling a piece "complete bullshit" regardless of the writer's intentions. In the long run though, it really was (and is) helpful because it allowed me to see certain aspects of the piece that I hadn't noticed before. That in turn makes editing/revising a little bit easier.
Editing may appear to be simple, because all it seems like is just reviewing the comments/suggestions that were made and then changing whatever they say to change. But just because someone makes a suggestion doesn't mean they're right; you have to ultimately be the one to decide whether it agrees with what you're trying to say within the piece. During the editing process of the last story that I wrote, I was constantly asking myself "Is this plausible? Is this believable?" I second-guessed myself many times. But in the end, it all came together.
And of course there is the publishing side of it, which can be even more work than the writing itself. The literary industry is rather cut-throat, where you'll probably receive more rejections than you will acceptances. It's amazing how I've realized that such a profession is truly dependent on your talent as an artist, which is a big part of what determines your profession. As difficult as it is, I believe it is why God made me a fighter, and why I've grown up with such a fierce sense of determination; you have to be willing to keep going, no matter who or what tries to point out that it might be easier just to give up.
The most important thing is not what one writes, by why. Sure, you can write to entertain people, but it doesn't make sense for that to be the sole reason. There has to be something other reason behind it; something that drives you and makes you truly want to write.
At the end of the year gala for my dorm floor, one of the guest speakers pretty much summed it up in this quote:
Writing is for those for when spoken words have failed them
For some reason, I'm am not that good of a talker; It's not that I don't talk, it's just that most of the time I have trouble initially expressing my thoughts and opinions out loud. So when I am afraid to speak, especially if it's to say that I am not doing all right, I write about it. As juvenile and immature as the whole concept may seem, it's frequently the one thing I know how to do in terms of coping. Heck, my last post that I wrote (which you can find here) was basically me crying out to anyone who read it. Cowardly? Perhaps so. But when you've spent time trying to verbally tell someone how you're feeling and they don't care listen, where else is there to turn?
I have a voice, and I want to be heard
But it is not just for the sake of self-expression or therapy, but something deeper. I have always said that I want to be able to make a difference in the lives of other people. Through writing, whether it be in a book or on my blog, I hope to have some sort of positive effect on people; to be a sense of courage, inspiration and strength.
Writing is not only (hopefully) my teaching platform, but one of the many gifts and talents that I have received from God. One of the worst things that anyone can do is to spend their lives wasting the gifts that God gave them. I don't know where I will end up ten years from now in regards to my career, but I have this feeling that it will have something to do with writing. Whether that be true or not, Lord only knows. But I'd rather know than wonder.
I can understand the doubt and skepticism that tends to be cast on being a writer, or any artist for that matter. There is no denying that it's a lot of work and more often than not, it turns into an uphill battle. That being said, it's sad that many are fed the lie that it is a useless profession. Reading is not only an escape, but a way to educate. Words and music have an incredible power to heal and help a person cope. The world needs artists and creators, because without it, the rest of the world would go insane. It may not have the financial security of working in law or medicine, but it is still needed nonetheless.
Update: having just graduated college, one of my main goals is to continue submitting my work for publication, while searching for a job that involves working with content-writing and social media for a company. Technology is such a blessing in this aspect, and I'm more thankful for it each day than I am wary of it. It will be hard, but I believe that it will be worth it.
I speak. I teach. I write.
photo credit: Slaff via photopin cc