"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life." - Ernest Hemingway
Statements like that have been made countless times by so many writers. Over the last few weeks, I have been realizing that, for me, they couldn't be farther from the truth. It wasn't always that way, though. I grew up isolated by my creative nature: in school, I was the girl in the back corner doodling in the margins of her notebooks and scribbling stories in her spare time about her favorite fictional characters, weaving in ones she'd created. (As one of the dying breed that grew up pre-internet, I wouldn't realize that the term for this was "fan-fiction" until halfway through high school.)
I went through college and several years afterward thinking that writing was something you kept secret from the world at large until you were a Published Author. There was a very silent but strongly implied distinction between a writer and a Published Author, you see: one was just a hobby, almost a waste of time ... the other was a Legitimate Job, but only if you were a Bestselling Published Author (BPA). So, you can imagine how I thought the cards were stacked against me from the start. I kept my writing to myself, because what were the chances of becoming a BPA?
Over the course of the last year and a half, an amazing thing has happened: I began to shed that mentality. With the help of a loved one and dear friends, I began to realize that it was the writing itself that mattered most, not necessarily what became of it. When I was actively writing, at least four days a week or so, I noticed that I was happier. I felt more like "myself". I was more inclined to say hello to strangers on the street, smile, hold doors, actively hold conversations at gatherings instead of waiting to be found and talked to. In observing things so that I can add them to the rich tapestry of Aviario and its inhabitants, I engage myself more fully with people: I find myself asking more questions about how and why they live, and not just "what they do". If people come to me with their worries, I listen and try to understand, instead of waiting for my chance to speak: because couldn't someone on the page have something similar on their mind?
Not only that, but since I rejected the notion of the BPA, I have been far more willing to identify with myself as An Author, not just a writer: I have created books. That makes me an Author. I've begun to say it with pride, even though I will likely have to tell people that I "do" something else to earn the roof over my head and the groceries in my pantry (and the internet that makes this blog possible, of course). A funny thing has happened, since I began to own my Authorship: people have been asking more about it. When I tell people what I "do", they simply nod and dismiss .... when I tell people what I AM? They sit up and pay attention. Call me crazy, but I think they can see, somehow, that I really care about my writing, that it's a passionate thing. I've always believed that passion and dreams go a long way toward making a person who they are. So, without a doubt, BPA or not, I am an Author. Admitting it to myself and enriching the world in my mind has brought me out into the world I live in. The writer may be lonely, but this Author has never been happier.
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