Friday, January 25, 2008

Re-Used Blog Post #1

So I thought I would post on this blog the posts I write for the University's literary magazine blog. (Hmm, this is a confusing sentence. Sorry about that.)

I feel it's okay since a) I wrote it, b) It's about writing, and c) It kills two blogs with one stone.

Here it is:

What? Me? A Writer?

Last year, I became a novelist.

I say this with trepidation, because who am I to call myself that? Can one merely write words on a page, in some sort of order, for the required amount of pages, and then proceed to call oneself a novelist?

Well, I hope so!

That’s what I did when I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November. I sat down for 30 days, writing approximately 1667 words per day, and ended up with a little book of over 50,000 words. And presto chango, I’m a novelist, with a certificate, and everything!

Labeling myself a novelist is very hard for me; the same for calling myself a poet. In my mind, I’m just Liz, a woman who spends her free time trying to come up with the perfect metaphor for eating spaghetti, or the last line in a story about a Martian who hems drapes.

I’m certainly not a writer! Ugh, that’s the BIG word I avoid using to describe myself.

As I’ve been thinking about why I fear calling myself a novelist, poet, and/or writer, I’ve realized this avoidance stems from how I’ve defined these terms, a definition I began to forge somewhere between elementary school, and Satan’s armpit, or junior high.

In my mind, a writer (et al.) is someone who is a) super cool, b) super smart, c) super witty, d) dresses in black, e) has unkempt hair, f) wears really big glasses, and g) takes black and white pictures of themselves on an angle like he or she can’t be bothered to look at the camera.

I don’t possess any of these traits (well, maybe the crazy hair bit, but without the black and the glass, I just look unhygienic). And so you can see my problem: I’ve defined something that excludes myself. And I think we’ve all done this at some point.

Why do we do things like this? (And by “we,” I mean me.) Are we afraid of ridicule? Of failure? Of having to explain to our grandma that although international business communications would be a more lucrative career, we’d much rather live off Cup O’Noodles while we write our collection of sonnets dedicated to the musical stylings of REO Speedwagon? (Rock on, guys!)

The answer, of course, is unique to each of us. But, it’s one that we all have to face.

It’s taken me a long time to let the fear go, and to actually accept that I am a writer. I am a novelist. I am a poet. (FYI: Writing these last 12 words have, still, almost made me go into spastic fits.)

But, there you have it.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the great geniuses of the last century, Popeye the Sailor Man, “I Yam what I Yam.”

And I am whatever I define myself to be.


Amanda said...

I'm so excited to read your stuff. I am sure you will have plenty of people to keep you accountable. My goal for writing is to work on my personal history. If you come across any good books for writing personal narratives, I would be interested. I have a couple of those 'answer these questions about times and places in your life' but I don't really know how to make it interesting.

Rachel said...

I completely agree with the whole "writer" problem. I had to have a talk with myself a while back wherein I said, "Rachel, you write all the time. You love to write. You want to earn a living with what you write. Maybe you're a writer." I still have a hard time thinking that way though.

Rachel said...

Oh, an enough about me. (sheepish grin) Your piece was great. The "martian who hems drapes," gave me a laugh and I want to hear more about it.

Laura said...

What is about that Satan's Armpit time period that either makes us or breaks us? I'm glad that it's helped lead you to be a Writer...even if it was a painful realization for you. You already know I think you're fabulous, but reading stuff like this just reinforces it!