Posted by: pendrops | May 30, 2006

i am a writer

I’m a writer. There, I said it. Like the first step of AA, the first step to becoming something, anything, is to admit it. But a writer? Me? John Steinbeck was a writer. Alice Walker is a writer. Poe, Dickinson, Whitman, Eliot, Fitzgerald, Dickens…they were writers. And I’m supposed to say with great gusto and clear conscience, along with the larger-than-life grand-daddies and grand-mamas of literature, I am a writer?

Yes…according to some, but not all, of my writing profs. “You are a writer because it’s in your heart,” one teacher told us, idealism and passion dripping from her tinny voice. “It’s deep down. You are a writer because you have something to say. You are a writer because, if – if you didn’t write, you could not exist. It’s like…it’s like…breathing. That’s what makes you a writer. Not a publishing deal or a paycheck. You are a writer.”

OK then, I’m a writer. And I write. As much as possible. And I read often, but not enough.

But I am a writer. So I pull dusty technique books off my shelf that I saved from college – half-read and dog-earred – and wish that I was still forced to write the way I was in school.

Still, I am a writer. And I write in my head sometimes when I’m sitting in a staff meeting or sipping tea at Barnes and Noble; I write snapshots of what people are doing and saying, or I describe someone’s hair and clothing.

And I am a writer. With instincts, inclinations, style, voice, a personal vocabulary and dozens of microfiction pieces and memoir chapters fighting to stay in my brain until I can get them down on paper. Reminding me that I am a writer.

I think if we only called ourselves what we are when, and only when, we reach the summit, we would never be called anything except maybe failure or really-hard-tryer. For now, I’m not a best-selling writer. I’m not a Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer. I’m not even a published writer. But I am a writer. And I’ve got the scars to prove it.



  1. …and a brilliant writer, indeed.

    Your words provoke me to continue the difficult but rewarding task of using language to inspire and intice others to keep searching out truth. I love reading every work, long or short, that you carve out on paper. You are gifted, and I’m excited to see how God will use you!

    I just love ya,

  2. And you have a brilliant husband for recognizing your brilliance. I love you too, but in a different way.

  3. There is a softness anbd gentleness in your writing. As I read the piece on Harper Lee’s book, and as I read your thoughts on writing, it was as if those words were being whispered.

    I would take issue with you on one thing you said. I don’t believe the south in 1932 was “a world of spineless men.” Surely Atticus wasn’t the only man of conviction!

    Here are some thought on writing from my unpublished book on the subject:

    The hardest part is always “to start.”

    You’ve bought, been given, or checked out this book. You’ve opened it and turned to this page. So, chances are this isn’t the first time you have struggled with a nagging desire to try your hand at writing. Maybe you’ve even thought about doing it for a living.

    What has stopped you up to now?

    That’s a very important question. Can you answer it?

    Don’t bother saying “I don’t have time.” Of course you do. In every endeavor, the winner’s day is just as short as the loser’s day. Priorities are demonstrated, not declared.

    That being settled, what is stopping you?

    There are three steps necessary to becoming a writer. Have you done any of the three?

    First, take yourself seriously. Face yourself in a mirror, and say, “I am a writer.” That’s more important than you might imagine. If you don’t think of yourself as being something, you will never be that thing. Find a mirror and say it. Do it every day until you believe it!

    Second, corner another human being – someone you like and can trust – in some public place and announce, loudly enough so that everyone nearby hears it, “I am a writer.” Note how everyone looks at you with admiration. They probably want to be writers, too, but you have actually admitted it. At that point, even though there hasn’t been any kind of legal ceremony, you are a common-law writer!

    There is no licensure in our profession, nor is there a qualifying exam. A belief and a declaration is all it takes. Why declare it in public? Because once the announcement has been made, it’s much harder for you to change your mind!

    One and two are easy. The third thing is to write. That one is a burly bear that will eat you alive if you let it. But you’ve got to do it.

    If you want to “be” badly enough, you will “do” what it takes.


    P.S. – I don’t love you, but don’t worry. It’s not about you.

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