a writer

I never thought I was a writer until I became one.

Part of me still doesn't believe I am. It's easy to discount the stack of journals I have collecting dust in my parent's basement, a disjointed collection of moments that when weaved together create the narrative canvas of my childhood. It's easy to dismiss the countless nights I lay in a dimly lit college bedroom, trying not to disturb my roommates as I put pen to paper unloading the nuances of my day. There was a pull for me to write in those journals, something inside telling me to get my thoughts out on paper lest they be lost, lest the memories fade without me ever having made sense of them in words.

But I wasn't a writer.

I wasn't a graphic designer, either, when I landed a graphic design internship with a website I so loved. But I taught myself InDesign and Photoshop and stayed up late editing features until they were just right. It took a while to learn what "just right" felt like, but over weeks and months and practice I kinda sorta did.

Then one day I was no longer needed for graphic design, so my bosses asked me if I wanted to write.

Write? I didn't know if I could do it but I tried and the words fell out on the computer screen. I kept writing, and I got better, and I learned how to tell when something I wrote and edited and tweaked a bit more felt just right; when the words came together to form a cohesive thought that made sense, that, in their own way, danced on the page.

But I for damn sure wasn't a writer. 

My cousin was a writer because she had, since childhood, claimed to be and so she was. People who went to journalism school were writers because they had the education and the certificate to prove their worth. J.K. Rowling was a writer because one day she sat down and began to pen a book that became, well, a series and a whole bunch of movies and a theme park and an entire generation of people whose imaginations were irrevocably sparked.

But there was no way in hell I was a writer.

Yet somehow, not being a writer and all, I've spent whole days doing just that, spurred on by some internal force urging me to keep typing, to keep forming prose with words. I've collected draft posts like they're Pokemon cards or stamps or wallet sized yearbook photos of friends which is a thing I'd like to imagine the technology laden children of today still collect.

I've learned that writing is how I process my thoughts. In a world where people are constantly talking over each other, always wanting to have the last word, I can't compete out loud. I have to write to get to the root of how I feel and what I believe.

There are those who attest you can't simply claim to be a writer without the experience and the prestige and without being deemed as such from the all-knowing powers that be, but how else does one do it?

How else does one become anything? How else does one get experience and prestige and confirmation from the creative community at large without starting somewhere? Without using pen or keyboard to express the words that feel just right to them; without first simply calling themselves a writer with enough conviction that they do indeed write until they reach a point where they feel worthy of the title?

You can spend a lifetime seeking approval, but approval is subjective and fluid and a bad source on which to base your value. There's only one person who needs to give you the go-ahead to work on a skill or proclaim your worth, and that person is your most domineering family member.

No, just kidding, that person is yourself.

I did not go to journalism school, I somehow manage to function daily sans prestige, and nobody has ever deemed me anything other than chronically late. I've spent years feeling lost in a deep hole of of ennui, unable to find or grasp anything that felt remotely true to a "calling." But I know a few things that I truly like to do, a few things I can see myself growing in, and one of those is writing. I am a writer. I am a goddamn writer. There. I said it. Twice.