Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Will You Choose To Be A Writer?

Being a writer is a choice.

A choice to turn off the television and fill the blank page. A choice to wake up early and spend time with your characters. A choice to put in the work required to finish your project. A choice to share it with the world.

Will you choose to be a writer?

I have to warn you. You can't make this decision once and then forget about it. Family, friends, work, and distractions will pop up and demand your attention. They deserve your attention, but you deserve to be a writer. Never forget that.

You will have to continue to make the decision to be a writer every day of your life, or at least every week or so. (We can all take a day off every now and again.)

Every writer I've met has faced "The Moment." The moment when they had to officially choose to be a writer. Like I said before, this is not a one time occurance. But there seems to be something special about the first time a writer makes that decision. It's unforgettable.

This is what happened to me.

A few years ago my life was a mess.

To be honest, it probably always will be at least a little messy. I'm ok with that. I've resigned myself to the disorder. My inner control freak is learning to relax, to breathe a little deeper, to walk a little slower, and to let things go. When she can, she lets the chaos move into the background, present but muted.

The year I'm thinking about was particularly trying. My dad was in the midst of regular health scares and I was questioning my choosen career as a teacher because ... well, there were a lot of reasons.

Then, in a three month period, I lost both my uncle and my grandfather. I was officially grandfatherless and I missing two of the sweetest men I've even known.

It's hard to express what I felt at the time. It was too overwhelming. What I remember more than anything was going numb.

But I also remember one particular moment in the middle of ... all of it... that changed my life. It happened during my uncle's funeral. I was sitting at the back of the chapel, fighting tears and watching my four month old niece, when a question popped into my head.

"What are you waiting for?"

I've rarely felt an internal question, or answer, so powerfully. It wouldn't, couldn't, be ignored. I needed to make a change and I needed to make it right then.

For me that change meant taking creative writing classes. It meant finally being brave enough to follow my dreams.

Writing was something I'd wanted to do for years. It was something I thought I would do "someday." Losing my uncle, and later my grandfather, made me realize that I couldn't wait for "someday" to arrive. I had to act.

I found refuge in the classes and the people at the UCR Extension Center. I learned about writing short stories and picture books, about techniques for crafting creative non-fiction and novels. I even started a writing group with a few new friends. Slowly, I felt myself wake up. The numbness began to fade and excitment tingled through my veins. I felt alive again because I had finally choosen to be a writer.

Four and a half years later I am still making that choice. Somedays are easier than others, but I am better able to handle the trials life brings to me because I am nururing my dreams. Whenever I struggle, whenever I am filled with doubts, I think back to the pew at my uncle's funeral and I ask myself one question.

What are you waiting for? 

I would love to here from you. Leave me a comment below. Tell me about your passion and about the moment you decided to pursue it. 

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