I am a forty year old writer who has been sitting in my ‘cave’ writing stories and pretending to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Those of you who know me might ask why are you putting yourself down? because as far as you’re concerned, I am a ‘writer’.
You see, I haven’t owned it. Owned my ‘writer-ness’. I have always had a very difficult time introducing myself as a writer.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer?”
“Oh really? Have you ever been published?”
“Why yes, I have been.”
“Would I have read any of your work?”
This is where things get sticky. I have been published in several magazine I write for, but it’s not fiction. I put my little shine on my articles, but the editors tend to rub the shine off a bit. I have had several short stories published in literary journals. I have had one short story published in an anthology. I have a blog I try to update once a week, but often times I only get to once a month. So where would they have read my work?
It’s such a strange moment and I never know how to deal with it, so I sweep my identity away with a wave of my arm and a shrug. At my twenty year high school reunion, I was asked the dreaded question, “what do you do these days?” I replied, “I’m a stay at home mom.”
Thank God for good friends who know my heart and soul and intervened and announced, “Um, no. She’s a writer.”
It is a difficult thing, to call myself a writer. An author. A storyteller. A novelist. A wordsmith. Maybe it’s easier for others, but for me, it’s difficult.
I attended my first writing convention this past weekend. I have never done this before because I never had the funds, though, had I wanted to, I’m sure I could have scrapped them up. I have never done this before because I was scared to. I was scared of what others might think of me, what I might learn about being a writer, or find, when all was said and done, I didn’t have it in me.
Registration day came, and there I was, a grown woman, scared as if it was my first day at a new school. But with my shoulders back, I walked through the front door because it’s time to do something new with my writing.
I can write all I want in my house, I can blog my random thoughts, and I can enter a few submissions once a year, but if I ever want to do something more with my writing, if I ever want to show more people my writing, I have to do something different and go out in the world. I set up a meeting with a professional editor and I set up a meeting to pitch one of my books to an agent.
I am a new woman this morning.
I am a writer.
The agent was reserved, which I think is her personality, but after talking about my book and pitching it, she wants to see a synopsis and the first fifty pages. So okay, cool. That’s an open door.
Then I met with the editor. Talk about someone you connect with right away. She blew me away when she told me that my writing was strong, my voice fresh, and my talent amazing. She called me ‘Rock Star’ and I laughed and tried to hide my tears because I haven’t had too many professionals who live in the writing world gush about me in person.
She told me that I was a writer, and she understood how difficult that was to embrace, but the more I embraced that idea, the more I would begin to act like a writer and the more I would do things that a writer would do. It is that whole ‘fake it til you make it’ idea. But her words rang true in my chest.
Then, to wrap up an overwhelmingly positive weekend, the short story I had entered in the short story contest hosted by the conference won second place.
I heard esteemed writers talk about their craft and share their secrets. I heard their stories, and they all had the same message, just keep writing, if you believe in it, if you work at honing your craft, you will get published.
The final speaker of the evening was a gentleman by the name of Ron Powers, he is the definitive expert on Mark Twain. He had a long list of credentials that included a Pulitzer Prize among other things.
He spoke eloquently about writers, he spoke about us as a group of men and women who have given up on traditional dreams and who had knowingly chosen to live our lives creating imaginary friends, filling blank pages with our souls, and tried to hold fast to the dream of holding a book in our hands for the first time. He spoke about that patron saint of writers, Mark Twain. About how that man changed the vernacular of the story and invented The American Story; American literature. He gave a nation its voice. He insisted that we writers were the continuation of that tradition. His voice was strong and true and I fear I am not doing Mr. Power’s words justice.
The end of the evening came and I walked home with my head held high and an amazing feeling of direction fill me.
Because after all; I am a writer.