I write, therefore I am a writer.
It should be a simple statement. And yet, I reject it. I am not a writer. I cannot call myself a writer.
I have never been so proud as when I finished my first book. I haven’t achieved much in my life that a put stock in, but that? Writing the last line of the epilogue, and knowing that I had completed my first book? That filled me with pride.
But a week later I was picking it apart. I was rewriting it in its entirety, because it was too juvenile. And I still maintain that it was. I was writing on and off for years. Mostly off. My writing changed so much from the time I started to the time I finished. I think I was fourteen when I started writing Awakening, and now I am twenty-seven. Half of my life. But I’m not a writer.
It feels like if I can’t write like Tolkien, I can’t be taken seriously. If I don’t tackle serious issues, if it’s not historical or political, if it isn’t High Fantasy. Let me say something controversial: I’m not the biggest fan of Tolkien’s. I tried, I really tried; my mum loves him. But there was too much description for me. I prefer to get to the point. I don’t soak up a book, I inhale it. Once upon a time, I would skip to the end to make sure the author wasn’t going to break my heart.
Long descriptive segments to get the readers inner eye working didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t see the point. I couldn’t see the details of a hobbit hole, I saw lots of words on a page with little action. I loved the intricacies, and the overarching story, and the characters most of all. No one can deny his world building was amazing. But I preferred the films; the writing just wasn’t for me. Aasimov, I could get behind. Reading his short stories was an experience in itself. I swear, it must be the only time I sat still for hours, and kept going back.
Back to the point, though. As a female writer, I feel like my work can only be good if it can be appreciated by a man. If it can be studied academically. If it pushes boundaries. Is that just me?
Let me tell you something: my writing is trash. It’s not serious, and it’s not funny. It’s just…there. I don’t have a strong style or flavour, I don’t have anything to make me stand out.
No matter how much I love the characters my heart brought to life, I can never make them breathe on paper. I’m not a good enough writer for my stories. I could never do them justice.
But I have never once read a book and thought that it was worthless. I even love fanfiction, even though some people turn up their nose at it. Some of the best writing I’ve seen has been set in someone else’s world. It doesn’t have to be “serious” to affect me. I can be moved to tears, gripped and enthralled by stories. In books, movies, even games. So why do I still feel like my work isn’t good enough?
Why do I still refer to Awakening as trash, just because it has romance? Just because it probably wouldn’t interest the men I work with. I work in construction, the men I work with don’t even read fiction. Why does the project I spent my life pouring my heart into embarrass me? Just because I didn’t create a new world to set it in, or a unique language? Iron and Bone has that. It’s harder to write, it doesn’t come naturally to me.
I wrote 126,000 words of Awakening. I finished the first book of what I had always planned to be a trilogy, which may turn into a longer series. That story shaped me. That story was the only thing that kept me moving forward with my writing. Hades was the first man I ever fell in love with. Kali helped me work through a lot of issues I couldn’t bear to tackle head on.
But the title of “Writer” is a mantle that has been worn by mountains, and I falter in their shadow. I cannot compare. I am never sure if I’m more afraid of failure, or success.
I cannot call myself a writer, but I am no longer afraid to write. Since starting this blog, I have been able to motivate myself. I have pushed through days I couldn’t get the energy to write. Yesterday was the first day in almost two months that I didn’t write anything at all. Two months may not seem like a long time, but the time doesn’t matter. Pushing through writer’s block is something I could never do before.
It’s easy to get caught up in the tiny numbers in my viewer tally. It’s easy to judge my work by someone else’s standards. But the only opinion that matters should be mine. If I don’t enjoy reading my work, why would anyone else? And I do, enjoy it, I mean.
One day, perhaps, I will realise that I am enough. I don’t have to stand on the shoulders of giants. It doesn’t matter if I can’t compete with other people. I just need to keep writing.
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