When I was a little kid I wrote ALL THE TIME. We had this old electric typewriter that used to be my Grandpa’s, and I’d lug it to my room, plug it in, and type away. I mostly remember writing plays, or screenplays that I planned to videotape (yes, I said videoTAPE) on my parents’ camcorder, starring my sisters, cousins, and me. I distinctly remember there was one screenplay I intended to film in my Grandma’s kitchen, and another in which I was an innkeeper with a modern kitchen disguised as an old-fashioned kitchen. I think there are probably some really awful videos, if anyone can access them, of us as kids filming our plays outside in the backyard. I KNOW there’s an awful one of me screaming at everyone in my parents’ basement that they ruined everything; I was a bit of a control freak and difficult to deal with.
I also wrote poems – not very good ones, and I only remember this gem, coauthored by my sister, Kayla:
If you ever meet a baby
who cries really loud
Then pick him up high
right up to the sky,
then drop him in the tub
and named him Bub.
C’mon, you all recognize real poetic genius here, right?
I turned all of my school paper assignments into creative writing stories. I don’t remember them, but I DO remember when I stopped: high school freshman English class, when we learned to write in MLA format. I remember crying about it (what do you mean I can’t use the word “I”?) and thinking my teacher was just the most awful teacher EVER; I’d even convinced my mom of it. Really, she taught me an incredibly important skill. But I very rarely had the opportunity to write creatively in school again, and I stopped doing it on my own time, too. Why? I don’t really remember.
I’ve known for a long time that I can write, and well (I’m so humble, aren’t I?). I wrote well in college, and in grad school one of my papers was used as part of the school’s reaccreditation process. I wrote analytic pieces for my job before I left to have kids. But I almost never enjoyed it. I did it because I had to. Then, in 2015 I started this blog on a whim. I still didn’t consider myself a writer. A book blogger, sure; but that was talking about others’ writing, not “actually writing” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).
A couple of months ago I saw a call for submissions to a new online literary magazine called Kindred Spirit, and for the first time I felt the urge to write – and I did it. I sat down and wrote to the prompt, a piece that I am pretty proud of but ultimately decided I’m not ready to share and didn’t submit. But the itch to write hasn’t gone away, it’s only gotten stronger. It’s perplexing, really – it feels a little uncomfortable and I’m pretty shy about it. So, I’m starting small. There’s a Twitter hashtag, #VSS365, that has a daily one-word prompt – you write a tweet-sized story using the word for the day and post it. I probably do it less than half the time, but it’s been so FUN. It’s like I feel a long-unused part of my brain slowly shaking off its cobwebs and sputtering to life. And the more I do it, the more I want to write — though I don’t know what or why, exactly. Maybe I’ll pop back in here and share some of my little #VSS365s…
I know to be a writer you don’t need to write every day. You don’t need to publish. You don’t even have to share anything you write with another person. And yet I feel hesitant to label myself “a writer.” It sounds so big and important, so much more than an unpublished piece from the heart and a few tweet-length stories or poems. But I’m feeling it out, trying to figure it out… Am I a writer?