I’m 36 years old. Surely by now I have reached an age where I shouldn’t be star-struck by people with successful writing careers.
You would think.
It’s not that simple, though. My desire to be a writer dates back to before I can remember. Maybe it doesn’t, but I don’t recall a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, so it surely must.
Writers are, for lack of a better moniker, a cool crew.
They are never without a perfectly crafted phrase or heartfelt yet off-the-cuff remark. They seem to have insight that others lack. They are master artists of the imagination. They can take you to places in your mind that you could never dream of on your own, and they can make it seem totally plausible that every story should have a happy ending or at least a beautifully chiseled hero.
They take us on journeys to places they have seen and make us want to go there, too, no matter how remotely located, expensive or unheard of the place may be. They write opinion pieces which ignite righteous indignation, boiling anger, heartfelt laughs or boisterous agreement on whatever issue is fueling the nation’s chat quota at any given moment.
Writers have always been my heroes, so when I actually get to speak to someone who is published or learn from them about what it took to hone their craft, I am filled with awe that this literary mind is taking time to talk to me.
Maybe it sounds silly. I do, after all, have Master of Arts in journalism. But that’s just a sheet of paper that says I passed some classes. It does not in any way reflect my actual writing ability. I could talk journalistic theories and tell you the history of propaganda and a million other things, but that does not mean I can write anything other than my name on the checks that paid the tuition.
So when I got the chance to speak to someone earlier this week who is a published author and regular blogger whose work I admire, I felt like a goofy kid getting to meet someone far beyond any importance I will ever achieve. We exchanged emails a few times, and I told her about my background and explained that I would like to be a writer.
She basically told me to get over it – I am a writer.
What? Me? I write, but I’m not a writer. Surely she had me mistaken for someone else. Here’s what she told me:
It sounds like you’re already a writer. As such, you can stop feeling and saying that you “want to be a writer” and rather identify yourself as a writer. When someone asks what you do, you just say, “I’m a writer.” Because you are. You write grants and ad copy and proposals and essays about your kids. You are a writer.
Ha! Who would’ve guessed?
To be honest, probably 99.9% of the people in my family and friends would’ve told you that I was a writer long before this nice lady clued me in. I’m the only idiot who doesn’t see it that way. To me, being a writer has always meant publishing articles in magazines, having my book printed or having a regular column in a newspaper (the latter of which is my ultimate professional dream).
But I am a writer and have been for years, even if this idiotic epiphany has only just now occurred to me.
I have written advertising copy that has reached hundreds of thousands of people over the years. Follow-up and tracking has shown that there were results produced from those ads. That makes me a writer.
I have written proposals to help acquire numerous hospitals and managed care contracts in East Texas and grant development proposals that have garnered more than a million dollars for my employers in the last three years. That makes me a writer.
I write this blog on a fairly regular basis and average about 55 hits a day. In the grand scheme of blogs that are out there in the wide world of Internet Land, that small amount of hits doesn’t really matter, but guess what? That still makes me a writer.
I wrote those things. Someone read them. Actions were taken. And yes, kiddies, you guessed it – that makes me a writer.
I have a feeling the epiphany-induced dizziness will go on for a while. Yes, I’m an idiot. But at least I’m an idiot with a smile on my face thanks to one lady who told me to stop talking about wanting to be a writer and embrace the fact that I am.
I. AM. A. WRITER. Geez. It only took me how many years to figure that out?!