Oh, the inner mind of someone who spends their time writing. Let me tell you, it’s a strange place to be. Writing is a solitary world, and decidedly dreary at times, and also, very full of self-doubt. And when you are a beginning writer, as I am, it is a place you inhabit in secret. Writers are readers, and they know, because of this, that there are good writers and bad writers. And they also know, based on the percentages, that it is probable they are a bad writer, and also that no one in the outside world likely cares.
Writing, as I’ve often moaned, is nothing like quilting. There are, of course, similarities. Quilting is hard work. Quilting is intricate. Quilting requires a plan and time-developed skills. Quilting is a work of creation. Quilting seeks to provide beauty and inspiration and meaning. But quilting is always, even in its most basic form, tangible. And no matter how ugly the quilt, someone is certainly bound to make use of it. This is the difficulty in writing, at least for me. So much of what a writer creates remains hidden and unseen. So much of what a writer creates cannot be touched by those beyond.
I have been writing young adult fantasy novels and personal essays for eight years now. I began when Ellie was one year old and I was well on my way to going insane. Writing helped. In the years since then, I have tried to write a little each day. This usually ends up meaning a little writing about three days a week. That’s how it rolls with children. A little each day comes to mean a little about half as many days as you actually intended. And this is not counting the months that just don’t work out at all, the months that disappear into the annals of: it was just time to take a nap. But I have written, and I have plugged along, and I have kept going. I have done this for eight years. This is all that there is to be done when you want to be a writer. You must just keep. on. writing. To yourself, of course, because no one wants to or should be forced to read what comes out of your mind in those beginning stages.
Recently, I had a moment, of sorts. My current novel was going nowhere with a quite deliberate gait, and while before I had always seen growth in my writing, I couldn’t see where to head this time. It is fine to be unsuccessful if you have hopes and ideas about how to change and progress forward. If you are simply unsuccessful and can see no way to do better then it’s time to buy some ice cream and watch movies in your spare time. Much more productive. It was at this time that I thought about the quilts. Because what if I had decided to make quilts instead? It’s true, I had started a quilt once. It’s true, it’s still in a box downstairs. But you know, what if?
What ifs, by the way, are terribly un-productive. And quilting, unfortunately, is obviously not my thing.
So, a writer, what, what. This is what I wanted to be. And apparently, it’s something I’ve needed to learn to own. The truth is, it is a difficult thing to say you are a writer. When there are no books. When there is no proof. When there is nothing to see or read. It is a difficult thing to work in words, and know that everyone who reads what you write will be judging, will be considering, will be comparing. Words are misunderstood. Words are forgotten. Words are ignored. Words are invisible and hard to see. But if I’m not going to make quilts, then I’ve got to really mean it. I’ve got to mean being a writer.
I am a writer, what, what.
I am a writer, what, what.
I am a writer.
Oh, heavens! I’ll keep saying it, and someday, it will be true.