I’m getting to the point – but just barely – where I can call myself a writer. For so long, I’ve guarded it, like it’s a dirty secret, some childhood humiliation I don’t want to admit.
I ignored it for years, writing only the odd paragraph on a piece of scratch paper and tucking it away in my nightstand. It was safe there; no one would ever see it.
I never stopped loving books, that sacred feeling of turning page after page. And I admired the authors, because I was sure it was something I’d never be able to do myself.
I sort of skirted around writing. I did all the writer-ly things without actually writing: majored in English, became a high school English teacher, taught writing, graded essays.
A part of me was hibernating. And then the thaw came – I guess it was around the time I had a left digit change and realized that I could go about my quiet little teaching life for another thirty years or so or I could take a chance. I could own up to it, give in to my true self.
So I did it. I took the plunge – what Annie Dillard described as diving into a cold lake. Once you’re in, she says, it feels okay.
That’s what I was doing all those years, dipping my toe into the water and retreating, afraid of the cold and the gooseflesh, feeling safer on the shore. But now I’m in – head first. I write, I revise, I receive rejection letters, I revise again.
So yeah, I’m a writer. That’s what I do.