You know what I never say? Never, ever, say?
I’m a writer.
You know what I’ve been doing long before I started this blog in 2009? What I was doing in college? And in high school? And in elementary school?
I started writing my stories (fiction back then, but very closely inspired by my real life) in Lisa Frank notebooks with one of those pens with all the ink options. You know what I mean? It was one pen and you could click down different ink colors. I loved those.
When my family got it’s first computer, and I found out I could type my stories, I’d do that//dos command and open up Word Perfect and type out my stories until my mom or dad kicked me off to do their work.
In 5th grade we learned the structure for the Five Paragraph Essay. We used different colored pens (black, red, green, and blue) to denote the various parts. I became obsessed with this concept. When my teacher said to limit each paragraph to five sentences, I was totally baffled. BUT I HAVE MORE TO SAY!
In high school I discovered the school newspaper where us students, under the patient but liberal direction of our sponsor, created and wrote all content. I wrote news and feature and opinion.
And in college I wrote for The Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper (the administration didn’t touch us with a 10-foot pole, a good idea give that we were 18-21 year olds running the show), and I learned the fine art of desperation writing. Your last source finally called you back, and you’ve got to pound out 75 lines in 30 minutes because your editor has everyone else’s story done, and you’re holding up the front page layout. Density over verbosity was our motto. Ruthlessly I sliced and diced and cut out words to make my piece fit my editor’s space.
After college and feeling at loose ends, I started this blog. And took on various freelance writing opportunities. And I’ve been developing a book.
And I still haven’t called myself a writer.
I feel like a fake.
Because I’m not a published author? Because I’m not writing online content for Babble? Because you won’t find my byline in Real Simple Magazine?
Back at the Cavalier Daily, after I was a staff writer and senior writer, I became a News Editor. In addition to my editor duties, I also sat at the front desk and I answered our phones.
“Cavalier Daily, News!” I’d say cheerily into the receiver.
“Hi, this is So-And-So from the AP,” a brisk sounding man said. “I need to speak to who is in charge.”
Holding the phone to my ear, I looked around the room. Some of our staffers were actually writing. Others were engaging in our 5271th saltine challenge (how no one ended up choking is beyond me). Yet others were playing Mario Cart. And yet others were in the middle of some sort of argument about the new parfait selection in the Pav.
“Well, that would be me,” I said clearly. “I’m in charge. I’m the editor.”
“How old are you?” said the man from the AP.
“20,” I said. “And I’m the most in charge person here.”
You got to own it. Whatever you do, you got to own it.
Do you paint? Then you’re a painter.
Do you design? Then you’re a designer.
Do you bake? Then you’re a baker.
Do you sew? Then you’re a sewer.
Do you write? Then you’re a writer.