On an almost daily basis, someone asks me the following:
“When did you become a writer?”
“Why did you become a writer?”
“When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”
“How did you become a writer?”
I don’t think I’ve ever asked a doctor or a lawyer when, why or how they decided to enter their professions. Didn’t ask my mechanic the last time he fixed my car (though, in hindsight, considering what he charged me, I should have!), nor have I asked my hairdresser, cop buddy or my mother who is a retired nurse any of these questions.
However, all of the specific people I mentioned above (read: Hi, Mom!) have asked me repeatedly. And if they have asked, I’m sure many others have wondered.
So, with that in mind, here is when, why and how I became a writer.
The short answer: I don’t know. It just happened.
Sure, I could lie and say I had some great epiphany while walking in the forest, or near the ocean or in the desert, but it wasn’t a spiritual revelation.
I’ve always liked to write. I wrote my first short story when I was six, received my first writing award when I was seven and won my first writing competition when I was eight. Teachers constantly commented on my writing abilities. The term Gifted Writer was all but tattooed on my forehead. I rocked essay tests (to the chagrin to one high school history teacher who thought giving an essay test was the ultimate way to humiliate his students), and while my college classmates were sweating coming up with a 10-page paper, I was striving to shave away the five extra pages I always seemed to have.
Outside of school, I wrote for fun. I finished my first novel when I was 12. I wrote a bit of poetry when I was in high school, and always kept a diary or journal.
I still didn’t consider myself a writer.
Years passed. I still wrote, but mainly for myself. I because a business consultant, business teacher, and eventually a proposal writer. But even when I had a job with “writer” in the title, I still didn’t consider myself a writer.
Even when I wrote a column for two publications and provided business articles for several others, I STILL didn’t consider myself a writer. Writing was still just something I did…
Then one day, about 4 years ago, I was hanging out with a group of friends, and someone I only knew in passing asked me what I did for a living. Before I could answer, another friend replied, “She’s a writer.”
My friend’s bestowal of the title kinda shocked me. I started to protest, but then my friend continued, telling the other friend about things I had published and what a great writer I was. I was forced to smile and nod acknowledgement, even though it still felt like phony to me. Sure, I wrote for a living, but in my head, I wasn’t a writer.
A few weeks later as I was preparing to back up my hard drive, I opened my “Documents” folder.
I had over 1,000 documents that I had written. Papers, articles, business plans and other writing projects I had completed, in folder upon folder.
That’s when it hit me. I might not believe my own press, but my friend’s pronouncement of me as a writer combined with a vast array of documents I had actually written could not be denied.
I was a writer.
And I’ve been one ever since.