Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Evolution of a Writer

Long ago, just able hold a pencil, I began to write. Letters became words, which quickly became sentences, flowing into letters to friends in Calgary and across Canada. By grade 4, I was gathering pen pals like flowers in a summer field.

Sheets of loose leaf paper were stuffed under my books in class while I detailed my adventures, thoughts, and childhood despairs. Too shy to let anyone read my writing, I wrote in secret and bits of me were delivered by Canada Post around the world, to only the closest people in my life. At that time, I didn't believe anything I created had merit or value, and by allowing the wrong person to read my deepest thoughts and creations, I was risking humiliation. Underground writing seemed to be the only way.

In my young 20's mind, I was a sham. How dare I write? If life held up a ruler, I in my estimation, I always fell short; the giant disappointment, the one who never achieved much. I was the girl who failed math, who didn't attend university, who married the guy that my family initially despised. How could I even hope to think that I actually had talent, or the ability to be really good at something?

How could I think that I even had the RIGHT to shine?

When Canadian Living published two articles I wrote, for a brief moment I was awestruck; as if maybe, quite possibly, this was something I could do. Just as quickly as the thought arrived, self doubt crawled back in. That was a fluke, I thought. Just a one off. One hit wonder. I won't be able to do THAT again.

The rejection letters afterwards seemed to be confirmation, or so I thought. Still, I dreamed and writing, the one thing that comes more naturally to me than anything else, flowed from my fingers in secret.

Blogging was easy. Easy because on a computer, nobody can see how scared you are. Readers are people on a screen, and I can turn it off. Nobody in real life knew I wrote, and I liked it that way. For the past four years, I've lived a double life of sorts. Every now and then someone would recognize me from the Canadian Living articles and say, "Wow! I didn't know you are a writer!" My answer?

"I'm not."

Until last Christmas.

I'm not sure what it was. Maybe the fact that Hubs and I were away without kids for the first time in ages, or the twinkly lights, or the great entertainment. As we sat in a packed theater when Stuart McLean launched into a story of Stephanie, and how her love of reading was set aflame by a book she found in her parent's house, I had an epiphany.

I knew then, without a doubt, that I have the same love for writing. It's hard to explain but the stories are there, and writing them is as intricate and as beautiful as weaving threads into a tapestry. Sometimes it's painful and difficult, but the need to create is as strong as my need to breathe. I was tired of the double life, and creating in secret. It was a lot of work hiding the other side of me from people, and I was ready to break free.

Perhaps you noticed the difference since then, perhaps not. In real life, the change was obvious. Suddenly more confident, bit by bit I talked about writing, and this blog, a lot more. While I was terrified by the attention that an interview with the Globe and Mail brought, I forced myself to tell people that yes, I'm a writer. I have a blog that I'm insanely proud of, and if they want to visit it, I'll give up the url.

At first, the words were as foreign to my tongue as a new food. Every day, I had to force myself to get used to them because slowly, bit by bit, I began to believe that yes, not only do I do this but I deserve to be here, and my work IS worth something. I AM a writer.

This past weekend, as I sat in a room full of bloggers at Northern Voice, I knew I belonged there. Maybe I'm not the most technical writer, and I have a hell of a lot to learn about marketing and other bloggy things, but after all these years, I've finally done it.

Goodbye, double life. I don't need you anymore.

I've found MY voice.

(guess what I'm wearing to work tomorrow?)

Photo Credit: Jerk With a Camera

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