"When I discover who I am, I'll be free."
Ralph Ellison (Novelist, Essayist, Short story writer)
I AM ......
- a girl
- a daughter
- a sister
- a wife
- a mother
- a grandmother
- a quilter
- a reader
- a friend
- a Christian
- a listener
- a cook
- a caregiver
- a homemaker
- a dreamer
- a lover of babies, trees, ocean waves, mountains, sweet songs, mystery novels, photographs, Coca Cola, girly movies, dancing, colorful birds, butterflies, friendly dogs, fancy stationery, Sharpie pens, a certain boy with blue eyes, mechanical pencils, soft, cotton fabric, crackling fires on a cold day, roasted marshmallows, Fall foliage, the smell of lavender, stained glass windows, cats, tulips, long, hot showers, precision haircuts, comfy quilts, purple roast beef, birthdays, flannel shirts, well-worn jeans, Birkenstock sandals, colorful socks, run-on sentences and more ....
I went to my writer's group last week. I felt a little like a fake. I felt like a wannabe, not an actual "am". I enjoyed being there - who wouldn't? Smart, funny, inquisitive, earnest women from different walks of life who share a common passion for writing. But, of course, I felt guilty for taking up space that could be filled by a "real" writer.
I went back over my notes from the first meeting. These women, who knew me only by an essay I'd shared with them, seemed to "get" me. The me that rests deep inside but tries to come out by telling stories. They encouraged me. They said things, like "of course, you are a writer."
After a few get togethers I felt brave enough to say it. "I am a writer." I tried it on for size. I wasn't sure if fit. I walked around for a couple of days trying to get used to the idea - like breaking in a new pair of loafers. I liked the sound of it, but wasn't sure it was for me. As I tried to live into the title a strange thing began to happen. Words that I had once been so sure of started to disappear. I ran out of ideas. Writing turned into thinking about writing, then turned into I'll do it later. My inner critic laughed as she asked, "who did you think you were kidding?"
My computer stalled. A couple hurricanes blew through town. Depression came knocking. Life happened. But no words.
Maybe it's not the words that are gone, but the passion. That's what I noticed at the meeting. All those ladies were alive with a writer's spirit. Where is mine? I know what it feels like, that burning inside to get thoughts out of your head and down on paper. The excitement of having the words flow like water, coming together in a good first draft. The other ladies had the passion and the typed up printed pages to show for it. I had nothing.
Does writing have it's own rhythm like everything else in life? A kind of ebb and flow of words, ideas, stories? Am I in a slump or am I just kidding myself about being a writer? Am I putting too much emphasis on the title and not enough on the work? Am I trying to be too many different things at once, or have I yet to actually figure out what I am?
Perhaps I should go back to the beginning. Everyday I should write what I see out the window, or why I'm grateful, or what I'm going to make for dinner; it doesn't matter what, just write.
According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary "a verb is a word whereby the chief action of the mind [the assertion or the denial of a proposition] finds expression." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I believe writing is a verb. It takes action - putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, to be a writer.
I better get busy!