“Why haven’t you been writing?” someone asked me a couple of weekends ago. I paused before answering, because actually I have been writing a lot–squeezing in a rewrite or scratching out a rough draft whenever possible. Then, I realized none of that work has been published yet, and what my friend really was asking is, “why haven’t you been blogging?”
When an active writer suddenly stops posting to their blog, it can mean only one thing. She is writing somewhere else. And that’s exactly what’s been happening.
Ann Kroeker and I are leading an online workshop this fall for Tweetspeak Poetry called, “The Writing Life.” The past several weeks has been a whirlwind of writing and organizing and developing lesson plans and assignments. As we set sail this past Wednesday, we have 11 eager students who are looking to take the next step in their writing, to move beyond just the next blog post or next article or even the next book, to create a sustainable writing life. I am looking to take that same step myself.
In week one, we are exploring what it means for a person to call herself a writer–to take on “writer” as a label or even an identity. I’ve written a lot in this space about what it means to be a writer. (It’s an irresistible subject to us writers!) I remember times when I didn’t tell people I was a writer because I was ashamed that I couldn’t live up to the hype. I also recall times more recently when I have boldly claimed to be a writer, almost as a dare. “Go on, ask me if I have written any books.”
Calling myself a writer is no longer about how much money I make writing or how many times I see my by-line in print or online. Lately, writing has become an organizing principle of my life. When I pray, cook, travel, mother, love, worry, or even cry, it helps to do these things with a pen in my hand or my hands on the keyboard.
Even a trip to Walmart yesterday had me practically running to the car, speeding home, and quickly throwing the groceries in the cabinets and refrigerator just so I would have just 15 or 20 minutes before making dinner to record what had just happened. I needed to put it into words.
But I don’t worship words. I worship the Word. And I don’t expect words to save me. Only the Word will do that. But words help me worship, and words are the starting point for me to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.
I am a writer.
Photo by Gracie Cannell, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.