Bless me, WordPress, for I have sinned. It’s been four months since my last blog post. (And also I just used a religious sacrament in jest, so I’m sinning all over the place.) Also, I only posted 10 times last year. 10! I’ve posted 385 times total and only 10 of them were last year. My poor, neglected WordPress.
That being said, I still don’t think it’s enough. I want to be a writer. I recently started calling myself a writer out loud, to see how it feels, but I still don’t feel like I’ve 100% earned it yet. I feel like I almost have, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past year in ways I never thought I could be proud of myself. But I still don’t feel like I’m putting forth as much effort as I could be.
When I was in 8th grade, age 13, they made us predict where we thought we would be in five, ten, and twenty years from then. I know I have that assignment somewhere, likely lost in the dusty confines of my parents’ cellar. But I remember that I thought I would be living in New York by the five year mark (done! yes!), have moved to California by the ten year mark (I changed my mind, New York has its hooks in me, I’m here for good, IT’S ALLOWED) and also would have written two “mystery novels” by then. By 23! I was an ambitious little sucker. I’m well past 23 and I’ve written…one mystery novella? Okay, a novella-length fanfiction story that maybe could be considered a mystery. Whatever, I also thought that, by 33, I’d have a husband and two kids, and I’m a 27-year-old single lesbian, so I think we can all just admit that my preteen self was about as prophetic as Professor Trelawney.
I actually had glasses and ridiculous hair at that point, too.
Anyway, my point is, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even when my verbal answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” shifted from “actress” to “veterinarian who is allergic to every animal ever” and back to “actress” again, I always also wanted to write. Ever since I was in second grade. I’ve told this story before, but as I mentioned, I only wrote in this blog ten times over the past year, so I think I’m allowed to retell it. The author of a children’s book (oh, how I wish I remembered which one) came to speak at my elementary school, and stayed afterward to sign autographs. I desperately wanted her to sign my book, but also was paralyzingly shy at age eight. So, my second grade teacher, who was firm but fair, and always someone I felt warmly toward while still harboring a healthy amount of fear of her, took me by the shoulders and ushered me to the table where the author sat. I don’t remember if the author said anything to me that I answered with a dumb stare or if my teacher was the only one who spoke, but it is only her words I remember. She said, “This is Valerie, she’s going to write children’s books too, someday.”
Well that just about blew my damn mind. First of all, I have no recollection of ever having this conversation with my teacher. I don’t even think I knew yet that I liked to write. All I knew is that I liked to read, like. A lot. Probably more than anything else at that point in my life, and maybe that’s all she knew, too. And the way she said it, she sounded so SURE. It wasn’t a dream or a goal or a possibility. She knew that someday I would write a book.
And dammit, I will. If for no other reason than that she believed I would.
Fortunately for her (and me) I have had other people, as I grew, tell me that they enjoyed my writing. And, as it turned out, I really enjoyed writing. So I kept doing it. And here I am.
I call myself a writer, because I write. I think I’ll believe I’m a writer when I write something truly meaningful. Something more than my ten closest friends read and tell me they like. Something that changes at least one person’s life the way so many of my favorite books have changed mine.
I recently read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which is a magically wonderful book that I highly recommend to anyone with an imagination as active as mine, or with such a sense of wonder, and in it, I found a quote that truly moved me, especially as someone who wants to be a writer.
“When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words…There are many kinds of magic, after all.”
I want that. I want to tell that tale that will move and drive another person. But I have a long way to go. I know it every time I publish a piece of fanfiction, every time I submit a recap. I know I could be better.
I haven’t figured out exactly how to improve my writing, not yet. But I imagine a good first step is to simple write more. So write more I shall. I will write here as often as I can. I want to eventually work my way up to posting here every day, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself (as I am prone to do) so I’m just going to say “as often as I can” for now, with the hope that it will become a daily routine. I don’t know yet how exactly that will improve my writing, especially if I’m never given constructive criticism, but I figure it can’t hurt.
I just finished reading Katie Heaney’s book, Never Have I Ever, and it was full of personal accounts of adorably awkward encounters, endearing stories, life lessons, and other treasures. It reminded me that I have random and ridiculous stories to share, and instead of forcing them on two or three particular friends who tend to get the brunt of the insanity that pours out of my mind as thoughts come to it, I could put it here, for anyone to read as they will. That way, no one is pressured to respond to my stories, my thoughts, my musings. You can either read them and comment, read them and move on, or not read them at all. And I will be none the wiser. Unless you comment. Then I’ll know if you read it or not. But you know what I mean.
Another thing I will try to do this time around, is try to write my posts the night before, and schedule them to go up the day after I write them. That way I’m not panicking at 11:58 that I’m not finished writing my post for the day. I just have to write something – anything – before I go to sleep on any given night. In a way that doesn’t make people want to gauge their eyeballs out. Easy peasy, right?
Obviously I have some work to do, but it’s an introductory post, one to mark the beginning of my foray back into the land of blogging, so I’m going to cut myself a little slack. I hope I don’t give up this venture ten posts in, because I do think that forcing the “writing” part (parts?) of my brain to stay active regularly will allow me to write better/more in other ventures.
So maybe you’ll join me on this voyage, and maybe you won’t. At the very least, I hope I haven’t made you gauge your eyeballs out just yet.