When I hear the word wannabe, I think poser, someone who is pretending to be something they are not. Up until recently, that is exactly how I felt about my writing.
Eighteen months ago, I wasn’t writing. At all. The sum totally of my writing experience amounted to me venting about whatever was going on in my life at the time. As a preteen, I would fill spiral notebooks with my thoughts, feelings and the drama around me. I was ten, there was no real drama in my very ordinary life, but I was sure there was. As a teen, I would fill those notebooks with all of the usual teenage angst, heartache over unrequited ‘love,’ anger over ‘wrongs’ committed by my friends, my ‘poetry’ attempts, you know, the usual. Each of those notebooks was squirreled away in my cedar chest, never to see the light of day again.
As an adult, I would occasionally do the same thing, when life got to be just too much, I would write it all out. There was no rhyme or reason, just a stream of consciousness word vomit that would somehow leave me feeling a little better. Never did I consider what I was doing writing. Never did I even think about wanting to write. It was just something I did to cope because there are just some things that you can’t tell anyone.
All of that changed when I discovered fan fiction nearly two years ago. I know, I was very late to the fanfic party, but better late than never, right? I had become more active on Twitter, especially in the Bones fandom. After following a link to FanFiction.net, a series of breadcrumbs lead back to the Twitter account of a fanfic writer. I followed her, she pointed me to some other fanfic writers and before I knew it, I was hanging out with this group of wildly talented writers, fanfic, original fiction, published, trying to be published, you name it.
When you hang out with such a group, the question – do you write – is inevitably asked. Every single time, I would laugh and say no. Funny thing, after being asked the question time after time, I began to consider it. Did I want to write? About eighteen months ago, the answer went from an emphatic ‘no’ to ‘I’d like to, but I can’t.’ After I made that statement, a Twitter friend sent some prompts my way, all for Bones. I’ll be honest, the thought of writing for an established fandom scared the hell out of me. I just knew I would screw up and have angry readers yelling at me via private messages. I set the prompts aside, but there was this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to give it a try.
I’d like to say that it was something simple that pushed me to write. It wasn’t. It was some extreme family drama that drove me to it. I fell back in to my old habits, in a way. Instead of just venting, I wrote an original story that was very similar to what was going on in my life. After a lot of encouragement from some writer friends, I posted it on FictionPress.net. It wasn’t widely read or reviewed, but the feedback I did get was positive. It was enough to feed the fire that was just starting to burn in me.
That one story led to another seven on FictionPress and fifteen on FanFiction. Most, if not all of those, I consider my wannabe stage. I truly felt like a poser, like I had no clue what I was doing, like I didn’t deserve to be on the same site as my more talented writer friends.
What I have recently discovered is that I want to write, I want to be a writer. That doesn’t mean I think there is a mass audience out there ready to read what I write. It means that I have this need to write, that if I go a day without writing, I feel as though I’ve failed. It means that on the days the words don’t come, I hope for any words, even if they are the wrong ones. Just the act of pounding out a few sentences, a few paragraphs, a few pages makes me feel like I’m closer to accomplishing my goal, closer to being a writer. It means that if twenty people, hell, if five people read what I write and are touched by it, if it makes them think, if it makes their day better, then I can call myself a successful writer.
That’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to practice this craft, to see if anything resonates with my tiny, little audience. (Of course, the other reason is that I have way more to say about my favorite things than my family can listen to, but if you read this blog, you already know that.)
I’ve also started what I’ve been calling the ‘secret project,’ an original short story/novella that I’d like to see published (or, more likely, self-published) some day. Now that I have outed myself, I’m sure my bestie will be nagging me daily to read it. (Sorry, C, you’ll have to wait until I complete the first draft.) Now that I’ve outed myself, I’ve probably set myself up for some accountability, which I want and need.
I’m making the transition from wannabe writer to I want to be a writer. I still have a long way to go before I will feel comfortable saying I am a writer. I’m okay with that. Life is a process, it’s full of transitions. Why should this be any different?
Now, a little advice, which is something I rarely give. Listen to the voice pushing you to try something. Be open to the new. I’m not saying to go out and try base jumping, but if you’ve always wanted to paint, give it a try. Sure, you might suck at it. Then again, you might be the next great artist of your generation. You never know. If a friend asks ‘do you ____,’ maybe they are seeing something in you that you don’t see in yourself. Don’t immediately dismiss it, especially if it comes up again and again. Once I finally gave in to the suggestions, to the urge, I found a part of myself I didn’t know I was missing.
If you’ve already found your thing, isn’t it a great feeling? If you haven’t yet, I hope you do soon. I hope you go from wannabe to want to be, too.