On Being a Writer
Or, After Several Rounds of Edits I Realized I Still Have Many Darlings Left to Kill; I Cannot Survive in Their Shadows
I am often found with a writing tool in hand. A pen, marker, crayon, eyeliner pencil... whatever I have handy will be used to chronicle the great and small components of my life and all the stories and characters that exist in my head. But it's only been recently that I have been able to (begin to) get over my fears about calling term myself a writer. Nevermind that the organization I helped found, abrasiveMedia, is pretty strong on its stance that a creator of any kind is simply one who creates. Just as one who bakes is a baker, and one who repairs shoes is a cobbler (when given options for descriptors, if one is mostly obsolete, I'll probably choose that one). Sure, there are variances in skill levels, vocations, professions, seasons in life. But if you create, you are a creator. It's a word that describes an action you engage in. By this logic, a 'writer' is simply one who writes.
"But calling myself a writer means admitting that
all I've ever wanted to be is a writer."
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So one would think that I would have had no issues with calling myself a writer. After all, I do write. Darn near every day for thirty-odd years, in fact. True, I haven't always written well. (So many journals of bad poetry became kindling, and let me tell you, we are all glad about that.) I have read poetry from many stages. I have authored theatrical narratives. I've written speeches and essays and articles. I've even had some pieces published. (I have also written an average of 80,000 words a year in various forms of business writing, but I'm really trying not to think about any of that right now, it's bad for my writing...)
But calling myself a writer means admitting that all I've ever wanted to be is a writer. I don't know why I've been so afraid of owning up to my own ambitions, especially as I mentor other creators through the process of owning up to their own ambitions. One would think I could take my own medicine. One would, of course, generally be wrong, as I am fairly certain I've only progressed this far due to the amount of people who took notes of what I told them and then spoke those words back to me when I needed to hear them.
...I don't really make a choice to remain in the shadows. I have to choose to stop hiding; it's my way of being.
To be honest, I have always hidden myself. Many have tried to encourage me to stop hiding, tried to coax me out of my shell with promises that it's safe out there in the great big world, that I don't need to choose to hide. But I don't really make a choice to remain in the shadows. I have to choose to stop hiding; it's my way of being. There are many reasons for this. Traumas, identity issues, all the false names I let narcissists give me, strong shadow-artist tendencies, fear that if you get to know me you will do what so many have done, and leave me, et cetera and all that.
My tribe, the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana, has been in the process of coming out of hiding in the past several years. We began hiding shortly after the Indian Removal Act. As we were hidden for so many years our stories were slowly erased. We lost our tradition of elders. We mourned people we didn't remember losing, left for pastures supposedly greener than the lands many of us had forgotten. It became habit to hide, and then nature to hide. And now, we are choosing to stop hiding. By "we are choosing," I mean "my elders told me to stop hiding because that's what our tribe is doing, and so I'm trying my dang best to follow through with that." (Perhaps firm and direct instructions will succeed where gentle coaxing failed.)
Thus, I am re-writing my very nature to be one who lives her whole life out in the open, and does not fear the power of her own stories.
Fortunately, I am a writer. Thus, I am well-accustomed to many rounds of re-writes after many rounds of edits after...
I gotta say, looking at everything I've done thus far, I think it's really starting to come together.