I’ve been keeping a secret. But the air is getting stale in my little closet recently and I’m forcing myself to come out into the light, reluctantly confessing my secret.
I want to be a writer.
I know, I know, I’m writing this blog right now. And I enjoy it. But I want to be a real writer, one who gets paid for stringing words into sentences and paragraphs that entertain or enlighten others. I want to see my name on a printed book that can sit on my bookshelf and proclaim to the world that “I am a writer and what I think matters, dammit.” Don’t get me wrong: it doesn’t have to be a bestseller, or even make it onto the shelves at Barnes & Noble. It just has to exist, with my words and ideas inside the covers and my name on the front. (And hopefully some great cover art too.)
You won’t be surprised to find out that I’ve got lots to say about a lot of things. I believe I have something of value to offer the world and the pressure from all my brilliant ideas is building up inside my brain; I need an outlet for all this stuff. I considered starting a separate blog where I could write about things other than nature, and to experiment with other forms of writing. The only thing that has stopped me from doing it so far is that there are NO good blog names left out there. None. So many times I’ve thought up a fantastic blog name, only to find that someone else had already registered it and only used it once back in 2006. That’s seriously messed up! (As an example of how desperate the situation is, someone actually registered this one. Too funny.)
I think the main reason I haven’t talked to anyone about my dream of writing a book is that I’m afraid people will tell me I’m wasting my time, or that the odds of being published are so small, or something else equally discouraging. And maybe I’ve also been afraid that if I tell the world my dream, it won’t come true. Yes, I’m a bit superstitious. But it occurs to me that this is typical of many writers, so maybe I do fit the profile after all.
All my life I’ve been told by my teachers that my writing skills are strong; one of my grad school professors even suggested I submit my term paper for an annual writing award. I was hugely flattered by that, but didn’t submit the paper. I know I can write a great term paper, but I’m not as confident about my ability to write outside the academic arena. That’s where I need to build my skills.
For the past couple of years I’ve been making notes about possible book topics, putting those notes into files, and searching for the idea that will really get me excited about following through. Lots of my ideas get squashed when I search Amazon and see that my book has already been written by someone else. Other ideas have promise but I haven’t been able to figure out the angle that will make the book marketable to a big enough audience. Some of my ideas are for nonfiction books and others are for fictional stories.
I’ve read dozens of books about writing and I’ve highlighted the crap out of those books. But reading about writing isn’t writing, so it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and get this show on the road. Put pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard, whatever. It’s time to write.
To show that I’m committed to moving ahead, I’m proclaiming today that I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this November, along with thousands of my closest friends. If you haven’t heard of it before, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, these gluttons for punishment make it their goal to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It doesn’t have to be publication-ready on November 30, that’s not the point. The whole idea is to help you exercise your writing muscles. You don’t even have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to. You just have to put words to paper…every day for 30 days. I can do that. And I’m going to.
But that’s not all. Since I know that my skills can only improve if I get feedback from other people, I’m also joining a local writing group. This is the scariest step, and one I’ve long dreaded. Having to let other people read my writing and give me “constructive criticism” is terrifying. But you know what? I’m doing it. My first group session will be next week. Omigosh, I’m going to be a WRITER.