“Poets are seen as the caretakers of language, so working with words no matter the form is what we do.” – Yusuf Komunyakaa
I have aspired to be an author since the age of 10. After reading the entirety of “The Chronicles of Narnia, all Sweet Valley High, Baby Sitters Club and Bingo Brown series, I was confident that I could mirror that level of writing for a young adult audience.
I started off writing poems in a notebook. Some were in iambic pentameter, others full of alliteration, and others with fluid language and no true rhyme scheme. I kept a journal from that age and when I look back, I see how my depth grew, all the while, wishing to be a writer.
What I didn’t know, and what I wish someone would have told me, is that I was already a writer. Those books I read informed and inspired my imagination, and because those published authors gave me the complete and edited product, I could mimic the quality. It sounds super corny but the best writers are voracious readers. So I proudly stood on the shoulders of Ralph Ellison, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Yusuf Komunyakaa, Mark Van Doren, C.S. Lewis, Zora Neale Hurston and Francine Pascal. Different genres, all written in a way that infiltrated my soul.
I remember writing my first children’s book at 13 and printing it out on my mother’s dot matrix printer. I tore the holes off each side of the paper and smiled to myself thinking “this is what a book looks like.” I got pretty close to finishing it but could never come up with an end.
My flash drive is filled with half written novels and story ideas and this was the beginning to my plight. Then, I kept doubting myself and chased a sort of perfection that I knew I couldn’t achieve. I tried to be clever, I modeled plots from great books I read, but I wanted to be unique. My family, teachers and peers always cheered me on. The gift was present, but I refused to open it out of fear.
In every one of my creative writing classes whether poetry, short stories or prose, I was forced to write and come up with some of my best stuff. Even though I knew I was good at writing, I didn’t consider myself a writer until one of my professors challenged my negative thoughts.
“There are no aspiring writers, she said. You either are, or you aren’t. If you have written a cohesive stream of thoughts, rather in a poem, a journal, or a novel, you have written…you are a writer.”
So I wrote this to tell you that if you want to be a published author, you can become it. But you already ARE a writer.