A couple days ago, Lori directed me to a blog she thought I might like: Primility. From that site, I found my way to a Jeff Goins writing website, the author of which is challenging his readers improving their writing. The challenge (admittedly, a little overly motivational speaker-esque, but I'm giving it a try anyway) is made up of 15 stages. I came in a little late, but I'm starting with this post: Declare.
I am a writer.
I have been a writer since I was 11 years old -- probably even earlier, but around 11, I began realizing I liked it and could be good at it. Around 11, I started getting an inkling that I wanted to be a journalist. Sometime in high school, I realized that English was my favorite class -- seeing how others wrote and how to improve. Sometime, in college, it occurred to me that I could write my way out of tests and term papers that I really wasn't prepared for.
Also in college, I wrote my first article for a major newspaper and was paid for it. At age 20, I became a professional journalist.
Along the way, my newspaper career veered into editing. I was good at it, it paid more and offered more opportunities and security (not anymore). Besides, I always felt I was a better writer than a reporter. Despite the editing road taken, I still wanted to write. And over the years, I have. There have been short stories, blogs, freelance articles, poems, a NaNoWriMo victory, and plenty of little inspirations and startups. I was a writer, but not at the level or proficiency that I wanted. Not at the level that I envisioned over the decades.
When people here I work for a newspaper, they sometimes say, "Oh, you're a writer." I usually correct them, telling them I'm a copy editor and explaining how important my job is. I do this partly because I'm a journalist and strive for accuracy, partly out of respect for the reporters who work their butts off. But I also wonder if I do this because I don't feel that I fulfilling my writing dream. Yes, I'm a copy editor, but my job does entail some writing. Writing headlines. Rewriting. Taking awful sports information releases and turning them into something of quality that can run in a major daily newspaper. And hell, without the writing prowess, I would have never been good enough with words to be a proficient copy editor. So why do I resist the writer tag when someone asks?
I went part-time five years ago, not only to ease our family's crowded routine, but also to write more. And though I have written more in the past five years than the 10 years previous, I'm still not satisfied. I expected I'd be writing 10-20 hours a week, and I'm not even close. I was at work a couple weeks ago, and on a break, standing on the balcony, staring at the mountains, listening to "Against the Wind" by Bob Seger (with the classic line, at least for me as a journalist: "I've got so much more think about, what to leave in, what to leave out."), I had a little epiphany: I was sick of reading other people's writing and not producing the words for myself. I'm not going to suddenly drop my limited hours at the newspaper, but this "aha" moment did remind me where my priorities should stand.
I've been feeling on the verge of a writing explosion for weeks now. I think that's why I'm trying this challenge from the writing blog, no matter how hyper feel-good it appears on the surface -- if it helps drive me toward my goals, it will be worthwhile. And I need all the nudges I can get. So here is my declaration:
I am a writer. Writing is what I am best at. I am incomplete if I'm not writing. I'm closer to the best person I can be when I am writing.
I am a writer. I would like you to believe it, but most of all, I need myself to believe it.