I am a writer.
After some 16 years of filling up black spiral notebooks, green leather notebooks, pink heart notebooks, notebooks sporting a lock and key, and filling them all up with thoughts, phrases, and doodles, but most of all words, words words– today, right now, I feel confident enough to say that I am a writer. Not because I’ve published anything (I haven’t) and not because I’ve just won an award (I also haven’t).
Because this: I’ve finally figured out that I am not that special and that that is okay.
I spent all of those years– and then some– richocheting back and forth between an astronomical arrogance and a deep-seated fear of inadequacy. Basically, I knew I was talented and I also knew that I was not that talented and both of these things freaked me out royally.
It should surprise no one that this describes also how I viewed myself as a person, not just as a writer.
And so I would mosey along my own Princess-y way, thinking and genuinely believing that I was God’s gift to modern day literature until someone would come alone and ever so gently and ever so kindly suggest some way in which I could improve my writing.
See, the thing with “improve” is that it implies an immediate lack of perfection.
So then, I’d crawl into some dark corner of my room (namely the one behind the bed) equipped with blankets and food and vow to A) never again come out in the daylight, B) never again write or if not that then at least C) burn everything immediately after I wrote it so that it could never be seen by another pair of human eyes.
In case you were wondering, it is really, really exhausting treating your one and true passion in life like a Katy Perry song. (Hot and cold, for those of us without a radio)
It is also really, really hard to ever get good at something if you don’t first admit that you’re not already perfect.
Right now I’m at such an exquisite phase of my life that I feel confident– true confidence, not arrogance– and most of these insecurities have been shed without me having to think them away or will them away. Shucked, like ears off of corn. Yes, I am not perfect. Still though, I am a pretty cool person with something to say.
I’ve been writing, and with the help of a dear friend, I’ve been editing somewhat. Everytime she shares her opinion with me, something magical happens; I just listen. More than that, I learn something. There’s nothing personal and nothing offensive– even when the writing material is the most intimate insider knowledge of my life. It’s not just that I am unoffended. You could get a tree from my parents’ backyard to be unoffended. But I am actually thrilled with the process. It’s exciting. It’s fun. I get to learn. I get to grow. What’s not to love?
I’ve been reading actual contemporary authors. And I have great news: turns out all the good authors didn’t die along with Dostoevsky! There are actually loads of them, still living, still churning out words upon words. A lot of them write way better than I will probably ever write. The name “Chuck Palahniuk” comes to mind. I guess Vonnegut is dead now, but not by much. From each of these authors I can actually learn something about the craft of writing. I identify how this person structures sentences, or this person makes use of unusual verbs. I can parse this wealth of information and consciously cultivate a writing style that is still me, yet refined and with some level of sophistication.
So it turns out that even if I do actually finish writing this book (which I plan on) and I do manage to convince someone to actually publish it for me (which I also plan on), in all likelihood it will not be the messiah of modern day literature. Sorry, fifteen year old self. It will just be another book on another shelf and my life will go on as it always has.
And you know? I am just really okay with that. I am okay with being not that special. Heck, if I can get to “decently okay” I’ll be thrilled. Because I love writing and I love reading and I love learning and I love putting together the pieces of my life.
You know, I’m biased, but I think it’ll be cool.