I am a writer. There, I said it. You would think that wouldn’t be a problem, but actually saying it doesn’t come easily for me. For years all I wrote were plays for kids in schools, poems for my friends and family, and a huge number of things that nobody ever saw. I did take creative writing classes in high school and college, but when my poems or stories appeared in the student magazines, I shuddered. In my mind, I was not a real writer, and I felt sure that nobody should be subjected to my ramblings.
But then I wanted to write kids’ books. I knew I would never get published, so my fear of people reading my work wasn’t a deterrent to trying. Surprise! I did get published, and people read our stories. (The three books I have out now are co-written with Ellen Rothberg). Soon after, a few short stories were published. Things were moving, and it wasn’t so bad! But I still didn’t think of myself as a writer. I was first and foremost a teacher who wrote, as opposed to a writer who taught.
Now when I go into schools to do author talks, I always tell the kids that they are authors. I want those aspiring writers to think of themselves as writers and not have the same self-doubt that plagued me for so long. If you write, you are a writer. Period. Many of the kids I speak to have written “books.” They may not be published and on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, but hey, it’s not like I have an editor at Random House either. I tell them that they are authors just as much as I am. They laugh, clap, and jump up and down. They always make me smile. But there were times in the past when I’d go home and wonder if I was a fake. Was I still a writer and an author even though I hadn’t had a book published in a few years? To be honest, there were certain times when I really wasn’t a writer. I spent a lot of time marketing my books and hardly any time writing. That was fine because my favorite thing to do is go into the schools and connect with kids. I love it, and I never want to give up that part. But that’s not writing.
Fast forward to now. I finally can say with confidence that I am a writer. In fact, it’s probably time to change that occupation on Facebook! It’s not that I have more books published, it’s that I have more books written. I write every day, and I have my eye on the prize. I will get more books out. Once again, I have a notebook and computer filled with poems, essays, partially written stories, and even a few completed ones. I’m not even afraid to let people read my work. Well, usually I’m not. Actually sometimes I’m not. But that comes with the territory. It’s scary, and the old self-doubt demon never leaves. But without sounding like a clichéd motivational speaker, doing what you love sometimes forces you out of your comfort zone.
So dear readers, what do you do that you love? Yes, I am still a teacher, mom, friend, grandmother, etc. And I love being all of that. But I am also a writer. Because I write. What are your thoughts on the subject?