Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writer

When I was younger and too afraid of people to accept my call, I dreamed of being a writer.

Agatha Christie

I dreamed of secluded fame, of fresh-printed books still smelling of wet binding glue and Emmy Rettino Kegler (or any of the many pen-names I came up with) embossed along the hardcover spine.

I filled journals, notebooks, floppy disks, hard drives with short stories and poems.

Writing gave me control.

I didn't have to fulfill any requirements, follow any rules I didn't want.

I could make my characters speak only in five-word sentences.

I could leave out any words beginning with S.

I could use em-dashes and semicolons fifteen times in one paragraph.

I could break the line here,
or
here, or
                                                   here.

I could have my happy ending.  I could decide how the poem ended.  I could choose who lived, who died, who finally confessed their love and who walked away to start a new life.

I didn't have a lot of happy endings in high school.
I don't suppose a lot of people do, no matter what the storybooks say.

I didn't have a lot of control over my life.  School, even after school activities, are highly dictated by rules and regulations and teachers and coaches.  And I knew something was very wrong at home - something beyond how physically sick my father was - but I didn't know what.  And for a very long time I thought there was something wrong with me - and writing was one way to get down into the isolation I felt, the differentness of me, and imagine a better world where I didn't feel so unlike everyone else.

Writing was my way of knowing that what I was experiencing - pain, heartache, inner turmoil, transition, fear, anger - was real.  And it was also a way of asserting that I believed it was not the final reality of my life.

I wrote because I believed my life could be better.

I had a few things published - no big deals, just poems or short stories submitted to various teen publications and contests.  I made my first $100 at fourteen from a writing contest, and bought a portable CD player with it.  That was the last time I openly shared anything I'd written with my friends - too much of the rest was unfinished - too much of the rest was dark.

I didn't write as much in college.  There was too much going on - too many friends - too many events - and then this beautiful, totally new thing with this beautiful woman named Kristi.  Oh, and too much schoolwork, I guess.  I'd come up with story ideas and jot them down, but I didn't feel the ache to write like I used to.

I didn't think of myself as a loner anymore.  I didn't need to write to change my world, because my world was really, really good.  So I stopped thinking of myself as a writer, and started thinking of myself as a pastor.

When I took up blogging, I was writing to chronicle my journey through seminary.  I still didn't think of myself as a writer.  I was just blogging what's on my mind at any given time.

So it was sort of a shock, several months ago, to have one of my newly dear seminary friends say:

"You're such a good writer."

I haven't been told that in a non-academic context in ten years.

I haven't been called a writer in a very long time.

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