Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A writer by any other name

I used to consider myself a writer.

As a child, I tapped away at the keys on our stiff beige computer, watching the dot matrix printer spit out my words with a telltale whirl. Notebooks were filled with various themes, be it my epic novel about four girls living in an orphanage, or a series of plotlines for my detective agency tales (being creative, the two main characters of the creatively named Dudette Detective series were myself and a close friends). I have memories of showing up at a cafe, as an eleven year old, to a free seminar on publishing, to realize that I was the sore thumb in a room full of adults. The presenter couldn't even be bothered to talk down to me.

As an adolescent, I switched to the realm of melodramatic poetry, purchasing colourful lined books to fill with stanzas about darkness where there once was light. Later in high school, free association exercises led to a veritable explosion of images across the page, bottlenecked in the nib of my pen because I couldn't write nearly quickly enough. I also dabbled in journalism, taking on any public relations position available in order to detail press releases of car washes and other fundraisers, and writing for community newspapers about a youth's perspective on crime and why the Spice Girls were bad role models.

Then "adulthood" hit.

Suddenly, with a full university course load, and a variety of jobs on the side, all my hobbies gradually drained away. Papers on the role of the mass media in criminal behaviour, the symbolism in Emily Carr's writing, the political strivings of Cleopatra, the validity of graphology began to swell in my brain, quashing the creative thoughts hiding in the recesses. I moved to the big city. Research began to be the defining force in my spare time, and I slowly adapted my writing to a more concise, technical style. Then honours theses, working two jobs, applying to grad school, and Masters induced hecticness I never knew existed as I struggled to find a spare 10 minutes to watch television, let alone pick up a pen.

When back at home one holiday season, I ran into my old writing teacher. I was used to proverbial pats on the back and "way to go"'s when former teacher's heard about my current accomplishments. She instead responded with "But are you still writing?" I almost felt ashamed as a I shook my head, and spouted off some generic excuses. She nodded in apparent agreement, but her eyes were disappointed.

I don't really know why I made the initial decision to start blogging. It was partially because I'd fallen for a man by virtue of his words on my computer screen. It was also because I was told it would suit me, for I was always spouting off random notions. Perhaps it was because everything had changed, or because, over the past 6 months, I'd realized that I had spent years without genuine self-reflection. While I know I explicitly claimed to miss the act of writing, I don't know that I ever believed I would really feel like a writer again. I thought those praises of a 10 year old's words were mere reinforcement or fluke, that I'd lost that part of me a long time ago, washed up with all the other real life realities.

Yet, somehow, I almost believe it again.

It's different, now. It's tied up in an element of secrecy, one that feels freeing some days, but stifling on others. I long sometimes to send a post to someone, to display how much impact they have had, to express what I mean in better terms, to even prove that there is this clandestine, creative part of my live outside of the day-to-day. However, at other times, I like the freedom involved in having my words interpreted in their own right, rather than as part of the context of another relationship.
So I type behind closed doors, for an audience who knows me only by these words, rather than through conversations and memories.

28 comments:

the almost right word said...

i also fell for a guy through his words in his blog. and yes, this lead me to begin my own.

i also used to consider myself a writer, and, lately, wonder if this is still true.

does a blogger make a writer in this day and age?

no matter the verdict, self-reflection is important, as is connecting with others. so here we are.

deutlich said...

and I SO love that you write here.

love.love.love

distractedspunk said...

I'm with Deutlich.

Katelin said...

i'm with the crowd. love that you write here. :)

Lisa said...

I used to consider myself a writer. And then I quit. The pay was lousy anyway. Haha.

And adolescent poetry? *Cringe* I still have mine online. Not that I'll ever share it now.

And echoing what everybody has said already, I love that I get to read your words.

lissa said...

yep me too. keep on writing :]

tmamone said...

Oh yes, I remember my melodramatic poetry days, too.

I personally think you've got great talent.

Tin Ma'am said...

I'm sorry hon... but maybe you could send them a post or something like it? I have a pseudo-anonymous post. I don't operate under my own name, but i certainly have post pictures of me and family and friends know my blog.
It is absolutely stifling when I have to censor myself a lot. I, personally, enjoy the candor of your blog. I think, because of this, you are a writer.

rs27 said...

I write because if I don't I forget how to after a while.

Repetition therapy.

Bayjb said...

I was a huge writer as a kid. I loved to fill notebooks and tap away at the typewriter and early Mac computer. Then that faded away (because I write all day) but after a dalliance in fanfiction, I started my blog too as an outlet for my writing.

And so far so good!

Beth said...

Once a writer, always a writer - even if you get waylaid by other things in life for awhile. The desire to write will never leave you.

Alexa said...

i think that even if others don't think/know that you are still writing creatibely knowing that you are, here on this blog for all of your loyal readers, should be enough to let you sleep soundly at night : )

twentysomethingandclueless said...

Just because you aren't writing in your spare time it doesn't mean you are no longer a writer. Once a writer, always a writer, I say! I've been writing since I was little too, scribbling in notebooks, later journals, bad poetry (eek - does everyone go through that phase??) and now blogging, a personal journal, and the occasional poem. (Not counting that I actually write for work at the moment. Because work writing saps a lot of creativity right out of me!)

You write beautifully, and you'll always be a writer. :)

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Man, I feel you on this post! Just about every word of it could be talking about me! The endless creativity and precociousness as a child, the losing track of that as a grown-up, the trying to get that back...

Good luck to you.

jenn said...

I never considered myself a writer. Then I started to blog. And I still don't think I am...

I'm the science one, my sister's the writer.
Ridiculous really.

Larissa said...

I'm not sure where I fit on the writer/non-writer spectrum. I just know that I love blogging for lots of reasons.

Z said...

This could so be me. Everything about it.

And you know what? I've started writing again. Sure, I'm pretty sure it's crap, but it's something...

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Ah, but you see, to a degree your words give us more of an image of who you are than those who know you by your appearance. After all, our eyes can deceive us and thus when someone meets another in person they can often lose the sense of who the person is because of what they see. Whereas the soul - or to use a more scientifically correct version: the actual person you are - in some ways is more revealed by your words without the image blinding us.

Yoda said...

I suck at writing and attempt to cover it up with lame humor.

I love to read you (and some others) who write mega awesomely.

Yoda said...

Also.

Why you cutting off feet yo?!?!

Sassy said...

Hmmm... the age old question. Am I writer or not? Funny how this always pops up at some point for those who write. :-)

I "published" my first story in 4th grade I believe. It was all about my pet rabit and cabbage patch dolls. Ha! But I've been writing off and on since then, so....

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

Thank you for the inspiration.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Falling for someone through their words is about the best way you can fall for them. The dudette detectives must be published! It must be!

Carrie said...

I'm right there with you, and have thought about writing a post just like this...I feel like since I've been out of school, my writing abilities have progressively gotten worse. Everything I write is so business-oriented/professional, and I struggle to craft a well-written blog post.

I really love your writing style, and can tell that you've been writing for a long time. So...thanks for sharing your thoughts in this blog!

nrichie2345 said...

I love this post! I feel like I'm gradually becoming more indifferent to my writing with so much school work etc too. But you are a fab writer, I promise!

Dylan said...

Being in school has completely killed my creative writing skills. It used to be the other way around; my formal papers were too personal, now my personal writing is too dry and straight forward. Philosophy has a very particular writing structure and once you've been sucked in... all those characters, story lines, vivid details... they are lost to linear arguments and formal language.

Blogging is how I hoped to stay connected as well. I've been reading your blog for a bit now, I really enjoy it. You are certainly a talented writer.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

I, too, love the self-reflection part of writing. I never expected to realize that I had STOLEN that candy, for instance, when I started writing my Sweet Memory post. You are a terrific writer. You have plenty of time ahead of you, so you'll come back to having time one day (after kids, haha).

Dougist said...

I didn't write for almost 20 years because I was busy "working" and "striving", and "succeeding".

Now I'm done with all that and I'm writing again, and it feels awesome, even on the simple days when I write about something as simple as writing at the Bobst.

That's the stuff on dougist.com. In the background, when the posts are done, that's where the novel takes shape, and that's my everyday joy.

Message to all you 'youts' who think you don't have time to write: Don't let the time slip by. I'm racing to catch up and I miss all those lost years.

(Sheesh...Now I feel really old...)

Doug