For the last decade, I shrugged my shoulders anytime someone asked me if I was a writer. I’d say, “Not really” or “Sorta” or “I used to write.” Partial became my identity. My words were my reality and my truth, and I was erasing my very existence with them all of the time.
Yes, you work a non-profit job. Yes, you’re busy being an organizer. Yes, you’re a mother, or an educator, or working a J.O.B. for cash. Yes, all of this. And. And you are a writer too, and a brilliant one, and a magical one. Maybe you only journal once a week, once a month, once a year. You are still a writer.
The moment you name yourself a writer, call yourself by your true name, your world will begin to transform. Mark my words: when you call yourself a writer, you WILL BECOME a writer. What you write doesn’t matter. Be a genre-bender. Be a poet. Be a blogger. Write love letters to friends, write your thoughts in a notebook. Doesn’t matter. Just let yourself be BOTH/AND. Let yourself be all of you. Stop sectioning off the many parts of your identity; embrace them, each and every one.
A year or two ago, I began to call myself a writer. It began as a whisper, to a stranger I met (now my mentor), buttressed by my partner’s absolute and total adoration of me and my words. It build as i tried it on for a while – as I let my pen slide against paper. It grew when I applied for a writer’s retreat. Ballooned when I was admitted. Exploded when I named myself Fierce Poet Am I and raised funds to send myself to Voices of Our Nations. Shot across the sky when I spent a week with other self-identified writers of color. Caved in when I came home and my self-doubt and insecurities tried to take over. And blossomed again as I kept writing anyway, against those mean voices. Continued as I continued to name myself a poet and writer. I began to say YES to myself. Yes Yes Yes!
Now I’m being published. Now, I’m invited to read my work (and I say yes!). Now, new writers ask me how to be a writer. All I know is this: name yourself one. You create your world with your word. Let yourself emerge.
PS Applications for Voices of Our Nations are due Monday, April 8th. Apply. Your life will change.