Admitting my love affair (with writing)

When do you let the cat out of the bag?

In the beginning I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book.  I thought it sounded rather pompous, and of course, I didn’t know if I had the guts to sustain it, but I kept hacking away, in the dead of night for going on 3 years. Whatever else happens, I am pretty happy about not giving up and not starting six different other projects to keep me from finishing one, which is more the norm for me.

I didn’t tell  anyone hardly anyone what I was up to until the 5th revision and my book had a finished sort of feel to it. Before admitting my nocturnal activities, writing was a clandestine affair. I might be wrong, but I doubt if quilters and knitters have this same kind of guilty pleasure. Gradually I started answering the question, “what have you been up to?” honestly, because at some point, without even knowing when, I started to feel like a writer.

I knew it was a serious affair when I wanted to write instead of watch TV and I talked to my characters in the shower.

But can I call myself a writer if I haven’t published? My rational self says ‘of course!” but doubts set in as I wonder, what if I have only one story? What if I can’t publish this one.  What if I tell people I’m writing a book, nothing comes of it and I fall flat on my face.

So be it. It doesn’t matter any more.  

The hurdle is one of confidance. I’m thinking that Confidance waxes and wanes like the moon. Some days, I feel great about the book I’m working on. I’m excited, even after umpteen rewrites. I think it’s a good story, yada yaha.  But when I spend two hours eeking out the details of three paragraphs, I think..geez, what am I doing? How can it take so long to get it right? Maybe I’m not a ‘real’ writer, whatever that means.

I wonder if Kate DeCamillo or (insert your favorite author) spends hours agonizing over the right POV, voice, exposition, and/or dialogue. If I was a real writer, wouldn’t this get easier? Should I just quit and take up knitting?

Problem is, much as I appreciate a good sweater, I have no passion for knitting.

Am I writer? or is this just a cheap form of therapy?

But writing draws me like a magnet and I can’t stop now. I’m working it for all its worth because it keeps me sane. As I write that, I know it’s true, even though it sounds crazy. Writing is a form of contemplation that allows me to process life. It helps me slow down and examine the raw data that surrounds me in visible and invisible forms.

I’ve come to think of writing as taste testing the stew of oddments, profane, divine, related and seemingly unrelated, that come hurtling towards me at quark speed.  When I write, I sort it out, spice it up, stir it and add ingredients from other pots.

But enough of  food metaphors. On my own terms, in my own time, writing simply lets me breathe.


What about you? Are you tongue-tied about calling yourself a writer?

8 thoughts on “Admitting my love affair (with writing)

  1. Tongue-tied, never, but it is hard to explain the process to non-writers.

    I know what you mean about spending hours on a couple of paragraphs, and I think even the greats like Kate DiCamilo rewrite. Interestingly, I just reread an interview with her from 2003, in which she attributes her success to luck as much as talent.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kathryn. I do like to think about the whole process…much self-examination involved in writing, at least for me.

      I’m sure great writers struggle with the same issues. It’s hanging in there when the going gets tough that makes the difference.

      As far as publishing, then marketing– there’s so much to learn these days and writers are pretty much left to schlepp their own books unless one has a best seller.

      I’d say luck is a big part of it at first, but for Kate she follows through with a lot of talent. I’d love to read the interview. Can you send me a link?


  2. i am not really tongue tied about it
    but i dont offer that i am a writer as an introduction
    mainly because while i have been published i have not made money at it yet i hope to so that all my time can go into writing its what i want writing right now is not my career so i consider myself a student of it however i dont not say i am a writer just because of that i dont believe that one has to make a living at something in order to be that something its just i dont offer the information most of the time because its easier to say i am a student i feel more like a student of it, they understand that

    i do find that most people like to hear about my writing if i do say that i write.

    people who can create something are interesting to most people as most people like creative people

  3. Hey, Rhama. Long time no see!

    I do call myself a writer, though at times it is hard to explain to others. The natural assumption from the general public is that once a book is written (ie first draft) that it should suddenly appear on the book shelves.

    There is so much that goes into a book (rewrites, submission, agents, editors, rejection, rewrites, repeat…) that it can take years or a life time to get a novel published. People don’t get that.

    However, there is something magical and liberating about stating the obvious: we are writers. Pubbed or unpubbed. Repped or unrepped. The act of seriously putting pen to paper, completing a manuscript and honing our craft makes it so.

    Don’t ever let your love affair subside. Live with it, love it and embrace all the joy and frustration it brings your way. To do anything less would be a crime!

    1. Hi Cate: Good to hear from you! Only another writer can understand this passion. It’s a daily renewal, commitment and practice that I receive as much from as I give it. The first thing I thought about when I woke up this a.m., after the coffee of course, was my book and the chapter I’m working on.

      I only wish that the time and discipline I spend on writing, (there could always be more!) I could transfer to exercising my body as well!

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