I’m currently reading the book “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. It was suggested to me by my close friend, Annie. We were discussing various books that have spoken to us recently and she immediately recommended this gem to me. I went out and bought it the next day. Why the rush? Well, Annie said a few words to me that immediately lit a fire in my creative mind and told me that I needed to listen to what she said. What did she say? She called me a writer. I’ve never been called a writer before. Yes, I write. But to label myself a writer, seemed to me the biggest form of a lie that I could ever utter. To have a close friend speak of me in this way was the biggest gift of words I’ve ever been offered.
I brought the book to work with me and read it at every opportunity that I could on my last trip. Last night, when I was putting the book away at the end of the night, a passenger noticed it and asked me if I was a writer. My response was a natural one; one that comes from a person who doesn’t really know what she is. A flight attendant, yes. A sister, an aunt, a friend; Yes. A writer? Um. The passenger looked at me with the most sincere form of understanding and just simply said that it was a wonderful book and that it helped. A lot. I’m so grateful for moments like these. Moments in which I am understood. That’s all anyone wants, right? To be understood.
In the 24 hours that have passed since this interaction and the 72 hours since my friend called me a writer, I have been mulling over the word. It’s just a word. So why does it cause so much fear, so much anxiety? And the only answer that I can come up with is this: If I really call myself a writer, that means I have to believe it and I have to write. It also means that I am grouping myself in the same club as people who have raised me, changed me, made me who I am.
Reading was my first love. Before there was music and travel, there were books. Words on pages that took me places, made me believe in something bigger than myself, and helped me shape the life that I currently live. The first time I read “Little Women” was the first time that I remember feeling like I wasn’t alone in the world. The character, Jo, was my hero. The way she was misunderstood by her sisters and parents, was a sign to me that other people struggled with things inside of themselves.
From “Little Women” to “Bird by Bird”, I’ve been building a pathway out of myself into a world where other people understand me and know what it is like to feel different than everyone else. And this is why there is so much fear. I never want to believe that I have anything to say that will help anyone else. Yet my phone rings on a daily basis with calls from friends, who ask me what I would do. Maybe nothing I write will ever help anyone, but I know that it helps me. Just like reading, writing offers me a way of escape from all the crazy that runs wild inside my head.
I worry that if i I start writing, I won’t be able to stop. I know, of course, that this is far from true. I know that I’ll be at a loss for words more often that not. I know that I’ll struggle with what to write about, when to write, where to write. I’ll start to rely on a certain pen to write with, or a certain table at my favorite coffee shop. I won’t like the music playing on certain nights at the aforementioned coffee shop. I’ll begin to think that I can only write on Sundays. I’ll write entire blog posts that I’m convinced are masterpieces and then I’ll hit the delete button too many times and I’ll lose the entire entry in the blink of an eye. This has happened twice in the last month. I’ll worry that my sentences are too long, that there are too many commas, that I won’t being using semi-colons correctly or that my grammar is all off. But, the most important word out of this entire paragraph is the word that I have so much fear writing. Because if I am worrying about any of this, it means that I am writing, which means that I am, in fact, a writer.
All I really want in life is a creative outlet. More than a million dollars, more than fame. I just want to be able to find a way to give this beautiful world something beautiful in return. I’ve struggled with this constantly. I’ve fallen in love with photography, hoping that it’s my creative calling. I’ve traveled all over the world this year, taking photos, thinking that was the answer to finding a way out of myself. But I always come back to writing. It has been calling my name since I was just a small girl, telling me that if I had something to say, that I should just say it.
Well, I have a lot to say. I hope I can get it all out.