A Late Bloomer
I didn’t begin to submit stories for public scrutiny until I was in my mid-fifties. Even after I had a few publication credits to my name, I never called myself a writer, but described myself as doing some creative writing on the side. Real writers—career writers—had agents and publishers and royalty checks. Right? Well…yes…but let me tell you a story about the day that line of thinking changed.
It was 2007. I had just completed my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with a “win”. I’d hammered out a draft novel in less than the allotted thirty days, exceeded the minimum word count of 50,000, and I had the certificate to prove it.
Fast forward a couple of days. I was catching my breath after an energetic Zumba class, when someone threw the and-what-do-you-do question my way. I heard unfamiliar words ring out in an all-too-familiar voice. “I’m a writer.” Oh my God. That confident-sounding voice had come from me, and now the improbable word “writer” was hovering in the air in bold typeface. I held my breath, struggling to keep my face neutral and my gaze steady. Pantomiming self-assurance, I casually reached for my water bottle and bought time with a deep swallow.
Eyes smiled back at me with complete trust in the truth of what I had just said. Lightening did not strike. Eyebrows were not raised. Eyeballs did not roll. Not only did no-one snicker, someone actually said, “How interesting.” I felt all the more like a fraud.
To hide the flush creeping across my cheeks, I bent over to tighten my shoe laces. Who was I to spew this “I am a writer” absurdity into the ethers? Was anyone paying me for my work? Did I have a novel displayed in the window of Barnes & Nobel? Isn’t it that kind of recognition that defines someone as a writer?
I took a deep breath, straightened my back, and nonchalantly said, “Just a few articles for a site called BookCrossing. I also blog on Live Journal, and…oh…I just completed a rough draft of my first novel.
And then it hit me. I’d actually written a draft novel of approximately 53,000 words. Writers write. It’s not the paycheck, not even the recognition for one’s work, but the act of writing that makes one a writer. I felt my axis shift. Cell by cell, as belief in myself began to replace trepidation, I took ownership of the words, I am a writer. I AM a writer.
Knit One, Purl Two • Flash Fiction Magazine
I served as the Prose Editor for the 2018 edition of SandScript: The Art & Literary Magazine of Pima Community College. The magazine won first place in the nation.
My poems “Manic” and “Watermark Memories,” and a black-and-white photograph were accepted in a blind submission.