My father was a writer at heart, even if it was not how he earned a living. His brother was a novelist who wrote screenplays to pay the bills. His other brother was an academic. His parents were screenwriters. One should not have found it surprising that I write.
Yet somehow I do find it surprising. I find it surprising because I never aspired to be a writer. Even when I was looking at journalism as a career, I somehow put that in a bucket separate from “writing” that was more along the lines of “political involvement”.
Of course, if I look back at my life, I have always been writing. It started with annual Young Authors Conference books from third to ninth grade. I wrote about Luke Skywalker travelling to some distant planet to help his friend Zeb whose X-wing had run out of fuel. They successfully dug for rocket fuel and went into the energy business. Yes, instead of becoming a Jedi, Luke went over to the dark side and became a big energy executive.
I wrote about a lonely kid in a book with a title that made no sense. I wrote of volcanoes and helicopters and ski trips and too-angsty novelas about earthquakes and fighter pilots battling tyranny.
Hey, I never said these were good stories.
In fairness, those were class assignments. But even outside of class, I could find myself writing one thing or another. A letter. A letter that became a journal entry even though I never had a journal. Another bad novel that blatantly showed my lack of mastery of the whole “showing not telling” thing.
I mean really, there are better ways to convey that the tower belongs to the bad guy than having a minion blasted out of the top window while a messenger approaches with bad news.
I would even try to translate game sessions and character backgrounds into stories.
I excelled in writing in school. The honorable mention I received at the Academic Decathlon? It was for my essay. The college class I took in the summer before my senior year? Essay organization…or to put it a different way, writing! If you look at my senior yearbook, it’s a bit stunning to see all the references to writing.
Still, I did not consider myself a writer, all evidence to the contrary. And writing was not just a skill, it was a crutch, a comfort, dare I say a weapon? When I organized my co-workers to present a grievance to our boss, I wrote the letter. When I challenged a Residence Life policy on the posting of organizational flyers, I wrote a letter.
Even in my love life, the written word was how I conveyed the really important messages. Leaving aside the roll call incident in second grade, in my life I have confessed my love to three women. Each time, I did it in writing. When my heart was broken, I responded with the written word, and it was with the written word that the door was opened to heal that friendship.
I have a surprising number of notebooks with starts to stories in them. This is not even my first blog. I started a politics only one at Blogger years ago. I have a Live Journal that I haven’t touched in years. I started a family blog on Windows Live. I wrote Hub Pages. Even my Facebook wall is full of written debates on politics and such.
It is, however, only recently that I’ve embraced the identity as a writer and begun to cultivate the ability, to find a voice and to really open myself to the possibility of writing for a greater audience. And here I am.
So how does this fit into the whole “Dream Deferred” discussion?
Well, I don’t really know except to say that writing has always been there. It’s never held my soul very tightly. It was always there, waiting for me to see it as something to pursue. I still don’t know what that looks like beyond this blog, but I’m interested in finding out.
Who knows? Maybe it will explode.