I’ve started reading books about writing.
I had to think for a long while about whether this was a good or a bad sign. On the one hand, reading about doing something you ought to just do can be an education-cloaked form of procrastination. On the other hand, reading about something you already do is pretty helpful. And instructional. And encouraging.
I hesitate to say that I write. As though it–and it alone–is the thing that you must “officially” do before you can admit to doing it. Like, if I was published or if “x” number of people read my blog or if some official writing-committee would call these written words “writing,” then I could say that I write. I have no trouble saying that I watch TV or that I get manicures or that I drink coffee or that I breathe.
I am a TV watcher. And a regular-manicure-recipient. And a coffee drinker. And a breather.
And I am also a writer. Turns out that that is even harder to say than that I write.
I’ve been waiting for permission. And it turns out, I don’t need it. It turns out, I’m the only one who can give myself the permission I’ve been waiting for.
So I think that reading these books about writing is a good sign. Maybe even a really good sign. That I’m owning it. That I’m admitting it. Sometimes under my breath and often with cheeks that flush pink and usually only to people I really trust (or to complete strangers–because really, what do you have to lose there?). But I’m admitting it.
I write. I am a writer.
And no one has to give me permission to say it. No one even has to agree. (Thank you, though, to those of you who do! Let’s be real: it is helpful.)
Maybe it’s these things closest to our identities that we protect the fiercest. I don’t want to put this thing out there–to say that I’m a writer–because it will hurt if someone calls it false. Go ahead and harass me about my TV habits. Criticize people who get regular manicures. Question my love of coffee because of my overuse of cream. (I do use a lot of cream!) None of those things really hurt me. I find it annoying because who are you to judge, really? But this writing thing? This part of me that I hesitate to admit? It touches something in the core of me, and so it is scary to put it out there.
It feels like taking off all of my makeup and then going on a date. Awkward. Vulnerable. Exposed.
But also honest.
Here I am. I am a lot of things. But this one thing? It feels brave to say it. I am a writer.
And so I will write.
And I will also read about writing.
And I will keep stringing words together here.
And I’ve got a project I’m working on off of this screen that I’m going to keep working on.
And I will try to write more honestly.
And I will try to write more freely.
And I will try to use words better.
And I will stop waiting for permission.
Because it’s what I do. And it’s what I love to do. And it’s how I’m made. And it’s who I am (or at least a part of it).
Is there something you need to admit that you do, to declare that you are? To unveil before the world (or maybe just before some close friends)? To commit to continuing? Do you need to pick back up what you put down in fear? Maybe someone called a hobby what feels to you like something more. Maybe someone laughed. Maybe someone criticized. Maybe someone’s silence sliced your hope. I won’t tell you that those things didn’t matter. Because they clearly did.
But I’ll tell you that those things don’t deserve to steal your dream or your passion or yourself.
You don’t need permission.
Own those pieces of who you are. They’re only yours to hold. Protect them. Guard them. But not to the point that you forsake them. Never to the point that you’d deny them.
Your Maker made you that way.
I’m probably going to wear makeup on the next date that I go on. But I may also tell him that I’m a writer.
Because I am.