During the many years of my teaching career, I was never free to attend the Christmas Coffee a dear friend always puts on each December. I was busy teaching. She never failed to send the invitation, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to join her and our mutual friends and acquaintances, but always wanting to make sure I felt welcome—not forgotten. This year, having left full-time teaching behind, I was able to attend. And of course this meant seeing people, many of whom I’d lost track of, for the first time in many years.
After the obligatory, “So, how are your kids?” the next question invariably is, “What are you doing these days?” My answer varied, depending on the person doing the asking. For two or three old friends the answer included my new venture—my writing. But I did NOT handle it the way I wish I had, nor how I know I SHOULD have.
I’m still acting apologetic, self-deprecating, and unwilling to own my passion for writing. One, typical revelation went as follows: “Oh, I’m pretending to be a writer. I sit at a computer, type in words, and hope they will arrange themselves into a compelling story.” REALLY, MONICA?? I actually heard myself say Really, Monica as I was giving my flippant answer. Is that the best you can do?
I have read and heard proclaimed time and time again, that I must own what I do. As I heard at the Willamette Writers conference, when you say, “I am a writer, (or author, or novelist)” you make it true. It becomes real—it becomes the truth. I have been writing steadily for over two years now, I have a contract for my first novel; I am past the point of someone thinking I might be a dilettante. I should have no fear telling the world, truthfully, what I do. Nor should you. Say it. Own it. You are a writer.
I am Monica. I am a writer. More specifically, I am a novelist.