As I sit behind the computer screen this morning, I feel the need to move away from parental rants and raves, to move away from women’s fiction, and to move away from op ed pieces. Instead, today, I feel the need to convince myself of something near to my heart–something that beats deep within my soul.
I am a writer.
I am a writer.
I am a writer.
Why do I need to take a moment to convince myself of my writing status, writing abilities, or writing desires? Because, of late, it feels like what I am is turning into what I was, and morphing into what I used to be. Every other title is taking precedence over my life, and people have noticed.
A message pops up in my Twitter inbox, lamenting, “I miss your blogs, but I know you have bills to pay. I have liked sharing your world through your blogs. You’re a very talented writer.”
Another message, this time from Facebook, “I have been reading your book. Just wanted to let you know that it really encourages me and helps me process. I’m thankful for so many things right now, for little God gifts, like your book and your summer blues blog. They make me feel normal.”
And, sometimes, little comments on my feed, “When is the sequel to A Soul Divided coming out? What happens to Cynthia and Aiden?”
But, the most relevant comment comes from Mr. M, who looks at me and states, “You’re not writing anymore.”
“I know,” I say, feeling the ache, the lure, and pushing it away. “I know.”
He goes on to say that I’ve replaced teaching with writing, which was never my intention. But, I have. Lesson plans don’t write themselves. Essays don’t read themselves. Red pens can’t grade without a human on the other side, bashing her head into the wall with every comma splice, and every misused comparative. That’s life, though, and I have allowed life to suck me in.
I play on Twitter (@WingItMomStyle), though, and make comments about writing–it’s my way of pretending to be a writer. One of my first comments this year states, “New Years Resolution: finish editing book one, finish writing book two, blog daily.”
So, that isn’t happening. So I make another tweet, wishing for this to become reality, “I have a few hours today. I guess I need to focus on writing again … totally gotten out of habit.”
Do I? Well, only when something truly irritates me, like when mom and dad bloggers declare parents who pack PB&J for their child’s lunch are homicidal maniacs.
But then come the excuses, because I’m really good at those.
“If I tried to write today, it would come out, ‘I am sick. I hate being sick. I’m about to boycott life. Free-writing: Nailed it.”
January wasn’t kind to me, but January isn’t the issue. I don’t know that I can blame my writing detachment on life at this point, even working two jobs and single momming like the Queen I am. For everyone new to my writing, my working title is Mommy, Queen of the Household, Demander of All Respect. Because I am mom.
And I can.
My antipathy toward writing, and subsequent separation, which I labeled a hiatus, has actually come from a few venues, mostly a writer’s deep-seated fear of sharing work–it happens to all writers–and public opinion toward writing and writers in general. Writing my first novel, A Soul Divided, took years. Three, to be exact. One night, as I sat around my empty home, missing my tiny human, I opened my computer, and envisioned a scene.
Don’t worry, I don’t hallucinate; I’m a writer. Visions come with the territory.
In the scene, a woman sits, belligerent, staring at an obese therapist who riddles her with questions. Beside her sits a man, her husband, who has the ability to act concerned when needed. Chapter One wrote itself that night, with my help. As I finished the scene, I shut the computer, and moved on.
Yep. That’s what I do.
Six months passed before I reopened that document. I read and reread the chapter, and then, on whim, I sent it to my family, probing for its worth. If I was going to write a book, if I was going to answer my calling, then I wanted to know if I had any talent.
Well, let me tell you, my biggest fan kept hounding me to write Chapter Two, and every chapter after. She got extremely invested in rooting for Cynthia, while hating everything about Marc. She would tell me how she drove around town, just thinking about what a jerk Marc was, and how she wished Cynthia would divorce him.
“They are not getting back together are they? She can’t stay with him! Tell me she doesn’t stay with him!” she would say.
I love my twin.
A Soul Divided is not currently on the market. The inherent problem with my novel is that I hate chapters one through four. All of them. Okay, hate is a strong word. My feeling toward chapters one through four is, “meh.”
It’s a real term.
So, a year after publishing it through CreateSpace, I pulled the novel. To date, I’ve reworked Chapter One. Chapters two through four are taunting me. But, while I work on revamping my first novel, I begin drafting my second novel, A Soul Ensnared. My leading lady, Sonya, is difficult to write. She’s nothing like me–okay, maybe she’s a bit like me. She’s headstrong, opinionated, and knows what she wants in life. However, she’s got a “stand by your man” mentality that I’ve never had, so it’s hard to convince myself that a woman with uncertainties, who is not married, would blame the other woman in a cheating situation, while exonerating the man.
That book is sitting, stagnant, awaiting inspiration.
Which is another problem I have as a writer. People claim that to be a writer, all you need to do is write, and write daily. For the record, that’s a fallacy. Writing is part of being a writer, but it’s not everything. Second, I wait for inspiration. By the time I sit down to write a chapter or a blog, I have worked the entire thing in my head, minus the ending.
What can I say? I like to be surprised.
If I didn’t wait for inspiration, or mentally work through the piece, it would be a disjointed first draft–much like some of the papers I receive as final drafts. I’m not big on free-writing. I’m not good at sketching ideas out, forming storyboards, or outlining chapters. When I do that, the piece feels forced, and it doesn’t speak to me.
Yes, my stories and blogs speak to me. Again, I’m not crazy; I’m a writer.
I’m a writer.
I am a writer.
Because, of late, it feels like what I am is turning into what I was, and morphing into what I used to be.
Maybe if I say it enough, I’ll begin to remember, and move into believing it.
Public opinion of writing has a lot to do with my aversion, as well. In this day, in this era, everyone is a writer. Not only that, and I hate to put this in print–but I will–but not everyone who writes understands the process of writing, the mechanics involved, or even basic grammar.
One of my biggest pet peeves, as both an English teacher and a writer, is when I devote myself to reading an article (that actually doesn’t take much, if I see words, I read them), a blog, or a piece of fiction, and there isn’t an ending. I see this mostly in the HuffPo crowd. Let me demonstrate a small example.
“Today I am going to write about the five things every mother needs to know when feeding her child for the first time. First, the child might scream while eating, and that’s normal. Second, the formula might be too warm, or your breast milk might come out too fast–also normal. Third, the child might fall asleep while feeding, remember to make them uncomfortable by taking off socks, or removing their onesie. Fourth, remember to burp the child post feed, or they will vomit. Fifth, repeat every thirty minutes to an hour.”
Writers, wait, “writers” are a new trend, and one that’s beginning to piss me off. They don’t study their craft. They don’t know the rudiments of forming a paragraph. They don’t know the argument behind the beloved Oxford comma. They don’t know what a comma splice is, but they sure do use it. Oh, and when they use a comma, it’s not for the eight ways that English allows for a comma. Also, they don’t know that there are eight ways to use a comma. They don’t read, and they don’t want to read. They don’t know any of the greats who came before them, and definitely cannot quote any work by heart. Their vocabulary is nothing more than inappropriately substituting a word found in Thesaurus.com.
They have nothing better to do with their time, and figure they’ll join the writing bandwagon by starting a blog.
Because everyone is a writer.
Which gives us writers a bad name.
“So, what do you do?”
“Well, I work in the medical field, I teach English to incoming college freshmen, I’m a mom, and I’m a writer.”
“Huh. Everybody’s a writer these days.”
Why yes, yes they are.
To some extent, this also causes me to pull away from my craft. I can’t blame it all on society, and I know that. It’s a combination of life, fear, and sheer avoidance. Those all play a role.
Even though my hiatus is long, even though my excuses are vast, this, right here, is my home. Behind the computer, tapping out a disjointed cadence, this is my peace. I’m at home, and complete, when I write.
Therefore, I am a writer.
No more excuses, no more dawdling. I need to get back to my craft.