How Do You Know When You’re a Writer?

Now Brewing: Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappucino. It’s so bad for you but these are my favorite treat for summer afternoons when I’m crashing from my morning caffeine fix and need a pick-me-up. I love the how the caramel gets hardened by the ice chunks and adds a double layer of crunch along with the little bits of candy. 

When you think about a year going by, chances are, one of the first thoughts you’ll have is “Wow, so much has changed.”

Change is inevitable, whether it be small changes like your favorite song or shirt to large life alterations, like a changing jobs or graduating college.

I myself have had so much change within the past year, so much so that up until a few weeks ago, it had me questioning whether or not I still wanted to be a writer.

Which raises the question—how do you know you’re a writer?

I’ve grown up, as I wrote before, always enjoying writing. I wrote my first “book,” a  six page story written on a lined notecard cut in fourths, about a leprechaun—when I was five. I always knew it was something I enjoyed doing in my free time.

When I was around nine, I realized writing was something I could do for a career. Around that time in my life I was deeply in love with Harry Potter and the series by J.K. Rowling. I wanted to be Hermione, but I wanted to be J.K. Rowling even more. The idea of writing words that could make complete strangers fall in love with ideas that I’d put on paper was very intriguing to me.

When I was graduating eighth grade and just freshly fourteen, my teacher recommended I read My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. Again, I was completely enamored by the way that novel changed the way I viewed writing and fiction and life in general. After reading that novel, Picoult became one of my inspirations and I knew that I wanted to be a writer.

Since then for the past seven years I’ve considered myself a writer. I’ve written countless short stories, discarded even more of them and even finished writing my first full-length novel, Second Shots, last year on my 20th birthday.

Still, this past year I again changed. I am close to graduating college with a Communication degree and a double emphasis in Media Studies: Journalism and Public Relations. Over the past two years since I’ve added the Public Relations emphasis I’ve watched as my desire to write creatively dwindled—or so I thought. I became very interested in technical writing and when I started my summer internship this May at CH2M HILL, an international engineering firm, I was certain that my days of dreaming up plots and characters were over.

And for a few days they were. I spent the entire first week at my internship writing and editing technical writing for business development proposals. It was a craft that was more mind and less heart—nothing like the fiction writing I’d been doing prior to this year. It was what I thought I was more interested in doing.

But then—

My boss handed me a black and white composition notebook to have on hand during conference calls. It took a couple days after that to admit it to myself, but almost instantaneously I had an idea for a story come to mind.

And for the past three weeks I’ve been writing it nonstop. Which brings me back to the question—how do you know you’re a writer?

For me it means that no matter where I am or what I’m doing in life, I’m going to write.

For Picoult she states that if you’re a writer you know. She wrote,

“Real writers can’t sleep because there are stories batting around inside their heads. Real writers create characters they weep over, because they are so real. Real writers can’t NOT write. I think you can make a person a better writer technically by having him/her attend workshops and creative writing programs… but I think that at the basal level, writers are born, not made.”

For the collection of writers contributing to the popular Tumblr blog, You Know You’re A Writer When It is when:

“You’re by yourself and start chatting with your characters so you don’t feel lonely”

It’s when:

“You always make sure to use proper grammar, even in text messages”

It’s when:

“Deleting whole paragraphs from your manuscript is the emotional equivalent of stabbing yourself in the chest repeatedly”

and

“Control-Z is your best friend”

and it’s when:

“You Look At Everyone and Everything as Research”.

For me it’s the gratification that comes from opening a new notebook and pouring out my ideas. It is reading back something I have written and not wanting to laugh hysterically or cringe. It is knowing that no matter how much changes—I will always write.

So Write I will.

See You All Again (Very) Soon (hopefully with an update on my new story),

Kathryn E. Weast

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