Am I Even a Writer?
Ever since I was a boy, I dreamed of creating something that could surpass the test of time. An itch, so to speak, that niggled away at my subconscious. I had always been creative in art, acting, space exploration and even saving the world. In my head. I used to believe that I was different. My mind was a galaxy filled with people whom I had yet to meet and places I had yet to see. I was desperate to take someone to my world to experience the action, the romance and adventure that played out in the imaginary space.
But here’s the clincher: I went and grew up. I fell in love, started a career and had three children.
“What’s wrong with that?” I hear you ask. The answer is nothing. I had every reason to be happy, but I just wasn’t complete. Whenever I closed my eyes and delved into my mind, the space and stars had turned to walls and the cowboys had morphed to tax-men. My galaxy had become a windowless room.
About a year ago, a friend of mine completed a PHD in literature (I envy anyone who masters such an art). I followed his many Tweets and Facebook updates as he set upon a career in editing (and releasing) previously incomplete historic literature. I saw his struggle and the hard work but on the face of it, he was a happy chappy. It wasn’t until several months later that he said something that would change my life.
“I’m writing a novel.”
At first, my response was “Oh that’s cool; I would love to do something like that.” And then nothing more was said (apart from wishing him luck, of course). I lay in bed that evening, eyes closed, in my brain space. I’d had enough. I had abandoned hope of creativity for too long.
Everyone else seemed to find ways of fuelling their dreams so why couldn’t I?
So in my brain box I stood. I walked past the children’s toys, pushed aside the tax-man and stepped over the money hole. I found my galaxy again. It was just how I left it; filled with joy, action and romance. I always wanted to share my galaxy with others but never could. But now I had the answer. It’s not about bringing someone into my mind; it’s about bringing my mind to them.
I was destined to become a writer.
The next day I couldn’t contain my excitement, which sucked because it was a Tuesday and that meant a day in the office. When my lunch break came around, I eagerly unfolded my laptop and opened up the word processor. At first, I just stared at it.
“Why’s nothing happening?”
I looked at my hands, and they looked back at me. I consulted my inner realm and revisited an action packed scene that had formed some time ago. The character, at the time, was nothing more than a man with a gun, in the middle of an overwhelming enemy force. My fingers started to move, faster than my mind could paint the ideas and before I knew it I had thrown almost a thousand words down. I was excited and almost out of breath, but I managed to quickly email it to my private address to finish later.
My lunch break had ended, but my mind was rushing like a hit of adrenaline surging though it. I had written something. It came from my inner world and become something almost tangible. When I got home, I barely acknowledged my little family, nor did I think about being hungry or tired, or anything for that matter. I just wanted to get back to my word processer to dot the i’s and line the t’s.
The next day I handed my work to a friend for his honest opinion. He liked it and pointed out some flaws (which I expected). So I wrote on.
Night after night, I sat and wrote. Creating a story around my scene. Then I started to falter. I was no longer happy with my work. It didn’t convey my imagination and felt overwhelmingly amateur.
I was disheartened.
I gave up.
For several months I read a handful of novels that closely resembled the genre I had initially attempted to write. I loved every damn minute of them. But as I read, I noticed something. Something that hadn’t happened before. I was no longer paying attention to the storyline. In fact, I wasn’t even paying attention to any of characters. I was paying attention to the author. I was following his every step. Calculating the amount of action, description and narration per scene. My head was spinning with structure and design.
“I was destined to become a writer.”
My galaxy stirred. Once again I unfolded the laptop. I decided to give it another go. Only this time it was better, faster and followed my intentions.
Now any writer will tell you, writing can be a lonely experience. I couldn’t ever say to anyone that I was a writer, mind you. I had only put about six thousand words down. How dare I claim to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with actual writers!? I’m just an imposter with a dream.
I figured that I needed to surround myself with those on the same spectrum. I didn’t want to ask friends to read my work anymore due to the risk of a held-back critique. I wanted some balls-to-the-wall clarity, so I joined a writers’ group (this one to be exact). I printed a few pages from my word processor and took them along for a meet-up down in the rather lovely Chapel pub in Broadstairs. I was nervous, probably too nervous.
After shaking hands and taking my seat I felt like a liar. An imposter. A damn fake.
“Sam do you want to go first?”
Screw it, I thought. I’ll hand it out, get what I deserve and go home with my tail between my legs.
Silence filled the room as the others read through my work. I sipped my pint. I tried to escape to my own little world, but I couldn’t. This was the first time someone other than an old friend had seen a piece of my imagination.
Everyone finished. The results were in.
I got home late that evening filled with glee. I wanted to tell my partner all about it but she lay sound asleep, so I jumped into bed and mulled it all over. The criticism was more than I could have ever hoped for. Sure, I had to tidy up and make improvements but I was right in my approach! I was actually doing it.
I was becoming a writer.
More meetings followed and I continued to plough through my novel, crafting my story and learning from my mistakes. Now, here I am. Right here talking to you. I have learned more than I ever thought possible. But above all I learnt something valuable about myself.
I am a writer.
I was a writer from the second I first opened that word processor. No matter what the future holds, no can take that away from me.
So if you ever thought about writing a novel, poem, blog or anything and you actually put a pen to paper or finger to key; trust me, my friend, you are a writer too.
© 2016 Sam Kaye
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Sam is a full-time working father of three, a fitness bod, and a writer; often sighted drinking fine ales and riding motorbikes.