Featured Image: A piece of writing from, based on my handwriting, around age nine. Maybe I’ll use this plot one day.
I have been writing stories since I was nine. I had read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as a fourth-grader and immediately jumped into writing what I can only describe as bad fan-fiction. It wasn’t bad because of poor writing (though, that too), but because even though it began as fan-fiction, it turned into just a smattering of fantastical characters in ridiculous situations, made even more ridiculous by my then-friend, Stephen. But I was thrilled by the process, nevertheless.
By middle school, my writing was at its peak– in terms of quantity, not quality. I was writing numerous stories simultaneously and sometimes finishing the ones with good enough prospects. Eventually, I wrote a sort of Twilight fan-fic that I handed out a singular copy of amongst friends.
In high school, I spent my time mostly on one story. I had two study periods a day and always finished my homework quickly, and so with all my spare time, I began to write, and with each page written, I would hand it off to my friend Keghan to read. Because he pushed me to keep writing, it eventually turned into a 217-page book that was self-published and disseminated (for the low, low price of five dollars) amongst friends and teachers.
In college, I only had the time and energy to write for my writing courses. At this point, I was neither peaking in quantity or quality, though I was finally fine-tuning my craft. I ended up writing the first version of “The Cat” for the creative section of my senior thesis. My classmates and I each had to read aloud a snippet of our thesis to a room of our peers, and I had been very nervous, but, with much practice, I rather enjoyed it. It both amused and intrigued the audience, and I was excited to be proud, finally, of something I had written.
Post-grad is when I started writing what I really wanted to write and at a level that would impress my younger self. It has since been a difficult journey of finding time to write and having good enough ideas to write about, but goddamn, when the right idea hits your brain, it is tremendously exciting.
But, most days, I feel like an imposter.
Even while writing this post, I am struggling with the idea that I shouldn’t bother writing it because I am not even a writer. The paradox that I have boxed myself in is truly inescapable, and I am dizzying myself trying to understand my own motives for writing.
Because what makes someone a writer? I know I disqualified someone once as a writer because he had only written one story, but who the fuck am I to say that the quantity of writing is what makes someone a writer? I only ever write one or two stories a year! So then is it quality? It can’t be– Stephanie Meyer has made millions off her garbage. It must be about motives, then. If you write because you love it, regardless of whether anyone ever reads a single word of yours, then you must be a writer.
But in the end, does it even matter? What makes anyone anything? You wouldn’t tell a baker she’s not a baker because she only ever bakes for other people, just as you would never tell a painter he’s not a painter because he’s never sold a painting. If you do the thing, then you are the thing, and, usually, you just have to add the suffix -er to it.
So I would say do it anyway; whatever “it” is for you. Maybe it’s drawing your favorite TV characters, or making tiny dioramas out of taxidermied mice, or writing Twilight fan-fiction — congrats, you’re all artists.
And I’ll be here writing, whether you like it or not.