This past spring, in a remarkable creative marathon, I finished writing the first draft of a novel. I had been working on the book for almost 5 years, off and on of course, sometimes going months without writing a single word. I started writing the story for the sheer fun of it, it was only after a fateful day when I hit the word count button and noticed I had 25,000 words that I thought "hmm, perhaps I've got a book forming here".
When I was younger, around 12/13 I loved writing fiction. I was a part of those online role playing forums (Harry Potter themed ones, of course!) back in the nerdy days of pre-tumblr internet and I loved creating characters and torturing them as much as possible. I wasn't very good at it, but oh how I adored planning out each downfall, writing stand alone scenes and entire chapters, loving every minute of it. Then came high school, and homework, and enough analytical essays that I felt the motivation to write creatively stamped right out of my soul. I didn't write fiction again until sophomore year of college. That's when the fun began again, that's when the novel hit 25,000 words out of nowhere.
Next I made a near fatal mistake, I started editing before I finished the first draft. Then I was caught in the spiral of editing, re-working and rewriting the first third of the book over and over again. It was only just this past spring when I finally got serious, forbade myself from editing, and managed to write out the end of the story. Well...the end of book 1 at least!
A circuitous route back to writing fiction again. For a long time I didn't tell anyone I had started writing a book, after all it sounds pretty cheesy and cliche to say "oh I'm writing a book". The notion brings up regrettable stereotypes, unfortunate fan fiction (hello 50 Shades of nope), Mary Sue fantasies, pretentious overwrought attempts at literature. I'd wager most first novels, especially ones written by 19 year old college girls (aka me at the time I began writing), are mocked for a reason. Then again some college girls write Divergent and turn out to be Veronica Roth awesome, so the outliers exist.
Which is all to say, I am often too embarrassed to call myself a writer, and that is unfortunate. I wrote a whole book, 120,000 words of fiction, and I should probably be proud of that. Is it really done? No not yet. I am back to editing of course, but the story is "on paper", the first draft exists. To be a writer is to have the fear, the fear that everything you write is actually, quite plainly, awful. The risk in writing is that instead of being an author, you are actually simply a dreamer. As one Redditer put it "Because unless you're published, 90 percent of people you meet will think you're kidding yourself". It's like telling someone you want to be a painter, the reaction is the same, they give you the "Oi, that's nice, good luck buddy, try a real job" face. Ouch. Sometimes it's easier to leave the writer bit out, easier to keep it to yourself. You can't fail if you don't try, or in this case, if no one ever knows you tried.
It's a bit odd, because I have no trouble claiming I am a seamstress even though I don't sew couture worthy garments. Why should I shun the tile of writer even if I can't write like best? Titles and labels have no real value, but by not claiming the title "writer" I do myself a disservice; I am a writer, it is something I do, I write!
I am working on a book. I really adore my characters and love racing along the streets of Victorian London with them. It is my greatest wish that someone else may love them too, may enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoy writing it. Dreamer, writer. I think I have always been both.
I went to school for fashion design, so believe me I am used to the look discussed earlier, the "wow, what are you going to do with that?" look. My roommates in college were engineering students, so meeting people while out with them was always fun, chemical engineering, civil engineering,...apparel design. The stigma of being just another girl who decided to major in shopping was quite annoying, never mind that I actually lived and breathed sewing and sketching. Dreamer. Dreamer.
So desiring a creative career isn't something new for me, but to call myself a writer is. So that's why I am writing this little journal today, to tell you all that, hey, by the way, I am also a writer. Maybe if I type it enough I could perhaps even evolve to say it out-loud. Hopefully one day I can go from writer to author, it remains to been seen.
Do any of you have a hobby you wish was your day job? Any other writers out there?