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?