Lately I’ve been thinking that if I had known more about myself and the courage and knowledge needed to embark on the writing journey, I would have been successful by now.
I wish I’d had a mentor, someone I could have talked to about the craft of writing. I also wish that I’d vocalized my desire to people who cared. What if I’d told my parents how serious I was about writing, rather than passing it off as a simple hobby? If I’d known how difficult it would be, I wouldn’t have taken my passion for granted. I should have kept my stories, even the terrible ones, because seeing how I’ve grown as a writer would have encouraged me to keep trying. I wish I’d gone to graduate school for my MFA. I should have taken the job at the paper. What if I had started submitting short stories back in college?
Then I remembered I was a writer long before I realized it. All I knew was that I had a wild, unexplained yearning to create stories with imaginary people I somehow knew. I had no fighting chance. For me, being a writer is a calling. There was no escape.
Sometimes, writers don’t even decide to be writers. Rather, we accidentally fall in love with storybuilding. Forget planning futures and budgets and retirement. We are so rip-roaring drunk on words that we can’t tear ourselves away long enough to think logically, rationally.
For those of us who are writers long before we recognized the symptoms, how could we possibly prepare ourselves in advance? No wonder I didn’t have a mentor. No wonder I didn’t keep my early stories. Should I really be surprised? I didn’t know what I was! I didn’t know I was already on my quest. Just think. I have lived the majority of my life at the behest of invisible people with messed-up lives.
This realization does soothe me. If I’d decided to be a doctor or a carpenter, my journey would have been mapped out a bit more clearly. There are specific guidelines for those kinds of professions. But writing, like any art form, evolves from a mystical place deep inside. For some, there is a direct hit, a definitive moment when we know right away, I want to be a writer.
For me though, my desire to write was such a normal part of my being it’s safe to say that’s what I always wanted to do. There was no definitive moment. No date to commemorate my newfound passion. I didn’t think anything of it because it was always there.
Before I was a writer, I should have known that’s what I was. Before I was a writer, I found a magic in stories unlike any other place. Before I was a writer in my head, I was a writer in my soul.
Did you know you were a writer before you were a writer?