Image: GMDS by meg
This year, I learned that I am a writer. It is the most important of the lessons I’ve learned.
See, I didn’t write for the past two weeks. I ducked out of Missouri the day after my last paper was due and I have been driving around my beloved Florida since then, visiting family and friends (not all and not enough) and hoping that the AC in Rudy, my dear hatchback, wouldn’t succumb to the relentlessness of the Fort Myers sun.
I felt that I had no words left—that I had been wrung out. My wonderings have woven themselves into various essays over the past year, my similes have been exhausted, and my perspective was beginning to falter. I wanted to let my mind breathe these two weeks and recharge by the ocean.
Words came back, but they come back in droves, with no direction. In my head, I heard them shriek when I knew that they should whisper; others mumbled when they should have projected clearly. My mind turned from tired to chaotic, into a wild place without order or structure. And while I believe we should let our words wander where they may, it does make for a calmer environment if they are moseying down philosophical paths rather sprinting full on into brick walls (and each other). The past two weeks, under the guise of a “break,” had turned into some mental, writerly, word hell.
As we were driving back yesterday, through Florida and Alabama, I got an email from a dear friend asking for me to read an essay she’d just finished. I read it there on my iPhone, in the traffic outside of Birmingham, over the music on the radio with the sun burning my skin through the windshield. And miraculously, the wilderness of my mind began to still. In reading my friend’s essay, I was thrust back into the world of non-fiction, back into the order that I love, back to the questions we ask in essays, back to the purpose of thought to voice to revision to essay. My thoughts snapped back into focus, like an elementary-school class that goes absolutely insane while the teacher “steps out for one second” and reverts into angels as soon as s/he walks in again. It was kind of like that. And I realized that I can’t take any more “breaks.” They don’t help. This—reading non-fiction, which immediately leads me to write my own—this is what makes sense to me. This is what calms me and recharges me. “Breaks” only make this worse.
I have doubted so much during this year. I have thought so often “what have I done” and “why,” and I’ve written about imposter syndrome. But when I was thinking about how to “wrap up” this year in a blog post, all I can think is: I know now that I am a writer.
When people ask him why he writes horror, Stephen King is known for responding with “Why do you think I have a choice?” I think its something like that. We all write differently, and we all write different things. We let our thoughts go to certain places and we mold thoughts carefully over time. But we writers can’t not write and I think we all realize that at different times.
I thought my time in a program would make me into a writer. It didn’t. It taught me that I already was one.
I’m happy to say that I’ll continue posting about my journey next year and throughout the summer. In the meantime, know that I will be writing.