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Thursday, September 24, 2015

What I Learned This Week: Maybe I'm Not a Writer

     Maybe I'm not a writer. This whole thing could just be some vision of grandeur that doesn't actually exist. Maybe I should have listened to all the nay-sayers: the ones who told me that I should have given up a long time ago, the ones who told me that my spelling is bad and my grammar is worse, the ones who declared that my books, written and unwritten, would-not-sell. 
     I could have listened and saved myself countless hours in front of a computer screen trying to gather words into perfect sentences to make the reader "feel" what my characters feel. I didn't have to try to make words icy to the touch and a breeze blow from between pages making an audience tighten their own collars. I could have concentrated on complicated math problems, I could have worked on my customer service skills, I could have ignored the advice that good writers are good readers and I could have thrown that love of literature away with all the pens and pencils, notebooks and binders full of words that I should have never used. 
     Maybe I'm not a writer and my life could be much simpler; only one life to live in my head. Stories could have stayed dreams and dissipated with morning sunbeams. I could have long ago stopped paying attention to the way that people move their hips in an individual quirky rhythm when they walk or the way they tighten their eyes when they wrestle inside with the words they speak and what they actually think. 
     I could have written myself into another story. I could have become an investment banker or a microbiologist or a sheepherder. I could be doing the things that people see as actually working. Clocking in and out. I could have locked words away for something more... suitable. Who reads books anyway? Fiction, non-fiction, historical, fantastical; it has all moved aside for the sake of technology, right? Libraries full of outdated, dusty, leather-bound
parchment. Turning pages! E-readers morphing into tablets that tempt us into the social media trap where we read short snippets of life hastily written with words that spellchecker doesn't even bother to spell check...
     Maybe, I'm just not a writer, but I can't seem to get with that. I can't seem to make my fingers and my mind comprehend and cooperate with the notion that there is no point to the direction that my heart has exploded and taken off into. My spirit is stubbornly uneasy when I am away from my word processor for too long and I search under my car seat in the grocery store parking lot for a pen that I know is there to write down the phrase that erupted out of the atmosphere and made me pull over lest I forget it. The perfect phrase that my character, the girl with the thick mahogany ponytail trapped between her back and the seat of the bus, is waiting to think, unedited and raw. I can't abandon her there. She could ride that bus eternally oblivious to the place she was going and the thing that, not yet imagined, waits for her.
     If I'm not a writer. If this thing isn't for me; I am afraid. I am afraid of what isn't and what may not be -- the only thing that my knowing has ever been. Graded papers that I refused to determine my destiny. Volumes of spiral bound, handwritten stories: Notes and poems, ideas and character sketches, plot diagrams and outlines: Writer's conferences and workshops, writer's groups and poetry groups and reading groups: writer's handbooks and references, dictionaries and thesauruses...and the books-- stacks of books, Steinbeck and Angelou and Sheldon and Morrison and Butler that sing to me from their pages and where I find my own voice and breathe my own breath.
Is it cliché to say that maybe I'm not a writer...but I think there is a writer in me?

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