I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember. I’ve always loved books and the art of storytelling, and eventually I grew to have the desire to write and have it be my profession. Writing fiction, poems, opinion pieces and more became the only thing that I could see myself doing with my life, and the only thing that I wanted to do. But recently I have begun to question my legitimacy as a writer and if I am worthy or not to bestow that title on myself. It’s been an up and down process for me, but I think I may finally have the answer.
Like all great stories, let us start at the beginning. I don’t know if I would say that writing was something that just came naturally to me. I remember in elementary school we were required to write our own stories and provide illustrations when we reached the second grade. My imagination was filled with an array of characters and plot lines to use, so writing stories quickly became one of my favorite things to do at school. My first story was about an eagle who lived on a beach with his family who had to stop an evil that was threatening his home. My other stories had similar themes of heroes fighting off the darkness in order to save the day. I gravitated towards stories that inspired others to be better and do better. I aspired to inspire others with my writing.
As I got older and progressed through school, I started writing stories in my free time. I kept a small notebook where I would scribble down ideas and plot points. I remember writing stories about princesses and the knights who were sent to protect them. A family friend gave me a laptop that had a word processing application on it, and I began to write my stories there. I specifically remember writing a story about a boy in Australia who had to find his long-lost mother who he thought had died. I let me creative juices flow during this time and wrote from my heart. I never shared my writing with anyone else, but kept it close.
As I transitioned into being a teenager and started high school, I began to take my writing a little more seriously. I carried a notebook with me wherever I went and would sometimes write in between classes. I would also write late into the night. Writing became my refuge during the time in my life where many changes were occurring. With my pen and notebook I was able to be the truest version of myself. I wanted to be the writer who would create the next great series like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. Yet still I chose not to share my writing with anyone else. It was just for me.
What came next in my writing story was nothing short of unexpected for me, but soon became a sort of blessing for my life. And that unexpected blessing was blogging. I had always came to associate blogging with people not like me: white moms who mostly talked about their kids, favorite recipes or arts and crafts. I never thought it would be for a black 16 year old with a lot of deep thoughts and feelings, but I decided to give it a try for the hell of it. I did not have a set plan on what I wanted to write about, so like the many years before, I just wrote from my heart. I wrote poetry about love and hope. I wrote opinion-like pieces and essays on religion and different life issues. I wrote about my life in my personal journal every night, a therapeutic exercise that helped me more than I realized. I contributed articles to Yahoo! and other sites. I even tried my hand at book and movie reviews on a couple of different sites and found that I actually enjoyed doing them. My writing crossed over many genres, and I was sure that there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life.
When it came time for me to go off to college, there seemed to be only one choice for what I wanted to major in: English. During college I mostly spent my writing time spent on papers and assignments, but I was also able to try my hand at new areas of writing. I took a video production class and got to write my first screenplays. I wrote for the campus newspaper and even got to be the Chief Photographer for a semester. I also started writing fanfiction and posting it online for other fans to read and give me feedback. I wouldn’t say that going to college necessarily changed my writing style, but I did continue to experiment and think outside the box. I still wanted to make writing one of my professions, along with being a photographer.
After graduating from college with a degree in English I found myself in a rather unique position with my writing. Getting caught up in the job market meant losing precious writing time and not feeling as inspired as I was before. I lost a lot of confidence in myself and did not believe that I was worthy enough to call myself a writer. Instead I focused more of my energy on building myself up as a photographer. But the desire to write was always in my heart, and occasionally I was able to sit down for a few minutes and write something out. This time in my life can be seen as a kind of transitional period that had its dark moments.
For the last two years I have begun my writing regimen once again. I have started to experience the same feelings that I once had when I was younger. I started a new blog and am currently working on it becoming a small business and source of income. I am focusing more on my fiction writing and have started a personal journal again. My goal is to write something somewhere every day. Not everything has to be perfect on the first try. I just have to try in the first place.
So back to my conundrum at the beginning. Am I worthy enough to wear the title of writer? I think I am. I may not have an MFA or publishing deal, but I am still a writer. Other students who I graduated from college with have obtained higher level degrees in English and writing, and that’s fine for them. Just because I am not following in their same footsteps does not make me any less of a writer. Simply put, I’m on a different writing path, and that’s ok. Being creative sometimes means not taking the same road as everyone else around you. I hope that wherever my writing can take me that I will make the most of it. I want my words to live on long past my natural life. Even if they live on a blog.