RTW: I Am a Writer

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival’ hosted by YA Highway. They post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to answer on their own blogs. The topic this week was “When/why did you start writing?”

You know that old cliche phrase, “I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil”?  Yeah.  That would be me.  Actually, if you want to get more specific, I’ve been writing since before I could hold a pencil–though I guess that’s not technically writing so much as story telling.  We have a family video from when I was just a precocious little snot–er, tot–and in it, I recite a poem that I made up. I was so young that I don’t even remember that moment, but it was the beginning of a long and (I hope) successful career with words.

I wrote my first real story in first grade and won an award at my elementary school’s writing fair (probably because I was the only first grader who entered). My mother has it tucked up in the attic somewhere, along with an illustrated story I wrote about a hedgehog and a number of other pieces I wrote for class assignments and other writing contests. I wrote constantly–during class (shhhh, don’t tell), at home, in the car, at social functions (who am I to tell Inspiration to “Wait just a second, eh?”).  You name it.  If I was present, I usually had a notebook and a pen in my hands.  Or a napkin, with hastily jotted notes covering every folded surface.

It never even crossed my mind to question why I wrote.  It was just something I did because it felt natural, like breathing or blinking your eyes.  And like blinking, if I thought about the process too much, it started to feel awkward, so I just did it. Before I even knew what it meant to “express yourself creatively”, I was finding catharsis and understanding through the written word.

Twenty-four years later, my writing has changed.  As I mature, so does my style.  As I become more aware, my writing begins to react to the world we live in–my topics are more relevant, the stakes are higher, my characters are more realistic. As I experience new things–first love, first heartbreak, new life, death, betrayal, trust–my writing becomes richer.

But through it all, I’m still a writer.  I don’t think about it too much or I start blinking a lot, but it’s always there.  It’s what identifies me.

I bought an armful of journals at Barnes and Noble just before Christmas last year, and the clerk asked me if they were going to be gifts.

“Nope,” I said.  “I’m being selfish right now.  These are all for me.”

“Are you a writer?” she asked.

I glanced down at the pile of journals and tried to hide my idiotic grin.

“Yes,” I said, practically bursting with happiness.  “I am a writer.”