Do you know the feeling of noticing that something has shifted inside? The sudden realization that something that you’ve been struggling with for as long as you can remember suddenly isn’t an issue any more?
I had a couple of those moments in the last couple of days, and both of them were related to taking myself seriously as a writer. In both cases, I acted as if I was already a “real” writer without having to think about it, psych myself up for it, or practice it. Something has shifted in me that has made my commitment to writing real for me in a way that it never has been before.
The first situation happened last night when I was talking with someone new, and the question came up about what I do for a living. It probably helped that she started the question by saying that she had already heard (from a mutual friend) that I as an author, which drew a chuckle. I don’t consider myself an author since I am not yet published, but I am a writer—and I told her so. I went on to tell her that I was currently earning an income as an administrative assistant at a seminary while I work on my writing.
Even though I really wanted to make a good impression, I didn’t become at all flustered when I had to admit that I am still trying to work out exactly what kind of writing I am called to do. I just know that I am meant to write. I also didn’t feel any need to impress her with the stories of my previous work experience at much more prestigious jobs, as I have been guilty of doing rather often. Oddly enough, she eventually asked me if I used to do other work prior to my current position, and when I admitted I had and shared what I used to do, she was relieved. She said that my current job just didn’t fit with her impression of me. But that came only because she gently pressed for more information, not because I felt compelled to defend myself, as I once would have done.
“I am a writer who is currently paying the bills by working as an administrative assistant.” And the key here is that this felt like enough to me because I am a writer. I felt no need to defend or explain or minimize or hide. It’s just who I am, and I claimed it without a second thought.
The second situation came today. I have just been accepted to write book reviews for an organization, and I had submitted a draft of my first one to the editor yesterday. I received it back today with “substantial comments/edits” (her words, not mine) and a request to make some significant changes in the way that I presented it.
There was a time when this would have devastated me. I would have been tempted to give up and never write in public again! (Or so I would claim in the hurt feelings of the moment. Writing is too much a part of me for me to actually do that for very long.)
But today? I found myself eager to read her comments and edits and appreciative of the time she took to help reshape my work into something that better fit what was needed. I was excited to have the chance to improve and learn. And that was my immediate response—not some emotional state I worked myself into after careful consideration of what the “appropriate” response would be. I was already in the middle of making her suggested changes when I realized that this was a new way of reacting for me!
I am a writer, and all writers benefit from good editing. This was simply a means to help me grow and become a better writer. And that came naturally to me in the moment!
I do realize, of course, that the first time I submit something to an editor that is of a more personal nature, it may be harder for me to react so positively. This was a piece of writing that did not have strong emotional ties for me, so it was not very challenging to remain detached from it, but this was still an enormous personal shift for me. I’m looking forward to completing my rewriting tomorrow and sending it in again to find out whether I am closer to the desired mark.
I am a writer. And judging from these shifts in patterns of behavior that have taken place without any effort on my part, I think I must really mean it this time. I’ve dabbled at wanting to write before, but this is the first time that I’ve this big of a commitment to it in terms of lifestyle, finances, job choices, and dedicated effort. I’ve finally shown myself with my choices that I mean it, and I’m acting accordingly.
I am a writer, and I mean it this time. And it feels really, really good!
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.