I have a confession to make: I’m not a real writer. I must not be because I can’t seem to write fiction. And real writers can write anything. I can’t even come up with ideas, let alone be able to write the story afterward. Every idea I do have is about something that really happened, and then I find myself wanting to write an essay instead. I just can’t get away from wanting to write the facts, and just the facts.
I know that fiction can be as true as nonfiction and maybe even more so sometimes. I get that. But I’ve always thought, “Why gussy up an idea and hide it in a story? Why not just come right out and say what you mean to say?”
I don’t think I’m a bad essay writer. But essays don’t get noticed. And I find it hard to find markets for them. A lot of journals and small presses take what they call creative nonfiction, but I’m not even sure that I can write that. I took two courses in writing creative nonfiction and it turned out that I didn’t write enough scenes; my essays weren’t enough like stories to qualify as creative nonfiction.
I also took a magazine article writing course and felt a little more comfortable there, but I don’t have the guts to query magazines with my article ideas. So the bottom line is, I don’t get published. Which further proves that I’m not a real writer.
And yet I feel like a writer. I’ve felt like one ever since I started writing stories and poems for my grandfather when I was a little girl. He paid me fifty cents for the stories and a quarter for the poems. So I guess I was a professional (read: real) writer even then. What happened to my ability to write fiction?
They say that children are naturally creative and that school and life experiences (including that of growing up) gradually leach it out of them. I wonder what leached it out of me, if I indeed had any to begin with. What I don’t understand is that my dreams are incredibly vivid and inventive. If my brain can do that while I’m sleeping, why can’t it do it while I’m awake?
I suspect that it’s not true that a real writer can write anything. But I used to believe that I could. And I feel like a failure because I can’t. I envy short story writers (I’m not even getting into how I feel about novel writers!) for their facility for telling stories. I seem to have lost mine.
I truly believe that God gave me the talent I do have and that He means for me to use it. But how? I already write every day. I write posts for my blogs, work on my essays, and if all else fails, I write in my journal. But I tend to judge myself on whether or not I get published. I’ve had a few things published, but that was a while ago. It would be a little hard for me to get published now because I never send anything out.
I need to be patient with myself. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve been able to devote myself to my writing. I’m still developing the discipline of writing every day and finishing what I write. The next step is to submit. I’ll get there, I know. I feel overwhelmed by the prospect, but because I can’t stop writing, I know that eventually I’ll get off my duff and get my stuff out there. I’ll keep doing it until I get published and then I’ll keep on doing it.
And then maybe I’ll feel like a real writer.