I often wonder how one earns the honor of being called a writer. To gain the respect worthy of the time, effort, thought, and heart you put into the things you write. What do I need to have to be an official writer and not just someone who scribbles away in notebooks? When does it become who you are? When do you get taken seriously? When does that moment arrive when you can confidently say you are a writer without the fear of being seen as a fraud and without feeling like an imposter? When does it become comfortable to put “writer” on your Instagram bio without feeling like a liar, without the anxiety creeping in that maybe someone is making fun of you behind your back (or in this case, behind a screen)? When does the time come when you no longer doubt that your story matters? That your voice has a place in this world? That you do have something to say? When does one stop wondering, Am I a writer?
I write personal handwritten letters to people in my life, to myself, and sometimes to strangers. Am I a writer? I fill pages of both expensive leather-bound journals and fifty-cent spiral notebooks with ink that manifests feelings and emotions. Am I a writer? I work a corporate 9-to-5 day job, but I daydream of sitting in isolation where I can cover blank sheets of paper with my thoughts instead. Am I a writer? I constantly reach for sticky notes, legal pads, and any other piece of paper I can find on my office desk or in my purse so I can jot down ideas for me to flesh out later on. Am I a writer? Late at night, I retrieve all the scraps of paper I have collected, my journal that accompanies me everywhere, and reach for my laptop, frantically typing the stress of the day away until my eyes betray me. Am I a writer? I crave to convey what I feel, what I see in others and the world around me into stories capable of reaching hearts. Am I a writer?
But you see, amidst all the questions and the constantly brewing anxiety and self-doubt, even with the constant impending threats of the all too familiar imposter syndrome, deep inside, there is this truth.
I have words to say, sentences to string together, stories to spill, and a restless, unique brain full of thoughts, ideas, and wonders all waiting to come to life. I carve out the time to write regardless of what the rest of my life demands. I choose to write even during the hard days and especially in the hardest seasons of life, when nothing seems to be right, because writing lifts me up. It is a lifeline, one that gets me through anything and everything. I read about writing. I pore over the biographies of authors whose works have impacted the life of those before us and of all of us now. I indulge in the blogs of lesser known writers who really deserve more attention and credit for their spectacular work. I peruse books, old and new, looking for inspiration, looking for new ways to perfect my craft even if I do not earn my livelihood through writing. I share my work, risking my ego to the sting of harsh comments, all for the hopes of garnering feedback to help me improve my writing. I choose words carefully, but I let my imagination run wild. I respect every existing writing style. Sometimes I borrow them, but I also strive to create my own unique approach in telling stories and showing my inner self through words. I yearn to share only words that empower, but I am also no longer afraid of writing from the heart, of showing parts of myself, of allowing transparency to prevail through every piece of writing I produce.
All my endeavors, all that I’ve lived and survived, all my triumphs and my sorrows are resources. The entire world around me is an infinite source of inspiration. I feel them all deeply and I make sense of them through words. I take words seriously, and these words I spill on paper without second thought. Inspiration, convictions, and theories consume me in the middle of the night when the entire world has retired into silence, recharging for the day to come. I snatch the notebook that sits on my nightstand, putting pen onto paper for exactly these frequent moments. I write what I feel, what matters to me the most with no hopes of getting anything in return. My biggest compulsion is to write everything and anything to preserve moments and even dreams so ludicrous that even Freud won’t be able to psychoanalyze his way through. I immortalize people and memories, no matter how painful or joyful, through words. I am willing to write poorly. I just want to write, my perfectionism be damned. I think a lot and I think more with my fingers. I get lost in time when I get lost in my own head, writing everything away.
For every finished story, for every completed article, I never feel done. I never feel like I have arrived at my destination. Each punctuation mark, each closing sentence, while they might wrap up one story, always seems to signify the birth of another. And I cannot get enough of it.
In spite of the vulnerability, the constant rejections, criticism, and insecurities brought on by being brave enough to share my thoughts or the mere lack of attention from others, I wake up the next day and write anyway. And I choose to write like I am the sun, for the sun rises each day with no care as to who would be watching. I aspire to write with all my heart, with no apologies and expectations of an audience. The sun rises to bring light into the world whether the world wants it or not. I write to bring light into the hearts of others whether they decide to open themselves to my words or turn the other way. Because at the end of the day, even as it retreats and lets darkness reign, the sun continues to share its light for the moon to shine—the very moon that lights our way when the night turns dark.
Here I am with this one last truth: I am more concerned with doing the work, with actually writing, than being referred to as a writer. And isn’t that what this is all about? In the words of Austin Kleon in his book Keep Going,“If you wait for someone to give you a job title before you do the work, you might never get to do the work at all. You can’t wait around for someone to call you an artist before you make art.” And today, I shall not wait for someone to accept me and refer to me as a writer. I shall not listen and give more power to the persistent voice in my head that whispers words of self-doubt. It is time to put it to rest. To believe that I am meant to write and that I need no permission from anybody to do so. I write, and in my words, I shall pour out my innermost self. I observe, I learn, I think, I write, not for the merit or the profit, but to pursue a passion and a calling no one can ever take away. I am a writer and so are you.