But Am I a Writer?

According to one of the women holding the wine hostage last night, there are these really important moments that happen to us in our 20s. We visit places we’ve never been and we meet people we would ordinarily never have a chance to meet. All of that seems to be true for me, but I’m not sure how much of it has to do with astrology (as she was arguing) and how much of it has to do with just being 20-something…or 30-something…or however old a person happens to be when these things come along.

mercerSo far, twenty-eight is working out pretty well for me (but so did twenty-seven). First there was the Decatur Book Festival (read about what that meant to this nomad here), and most recently, there was the weekend that I spent in the Wordy South (Mercer University in Macon, GA) at the Crossroads Writers Conference.

At Crossroads, I ran into Rachael, a girl I had class with in college (read Rachael’s blog here). We hadn’t talked in years, and at first we reconnected over old professors and how our thoughts on writing and publishing have evolved since we sat in those desks at Valdosta State four years ago. And then she told me that she was quitting her day job to chase writing full time. She was always quick to credit her husband’s job and his amazing support as primary contributors, but I was still impressed with her tenacity. She has a story, and she believes in it enough to tell it. That’s huge.

Rachael’s dedication to the cause made me start to doubt my own conviction. Did I believe in my story enough? Sure, I shelled out some cash to attend a writing conference. I had to believe a little bit, I guess. But like the wine lady would tell me later, “Writers finish,” and I’ve only finished (as in written, revised, and submitted) some poetry and short prose. I’m currently sitting on about a quarter of a manuscript, and I was doubting its legitimacy.

Later last night, I accidentally cornered Kathy Holzapfel (I promise, Kathy, I was going for the beer in the sink; also, I still can’t pronounce your last name). She asked, as did a lot of people this weekend, what I was working on, and I told her.

Note to self: work on length of initial pitch.

Side-note/ question to others: The elevator pitch…fast enough for one floor? a short building? a super tall building? the Tower of Terror ride at Disney?

But she listened, and she asked really great questions, and she was encouraging. I walked away from our short conversation feeling a little bit closer to breaking through. I felt a bit like a writer.

crossroadsAnd that’s really what this weekend taught me on a metaphysical level: I am a writer. And I will finish this book because this story is worth telling, goddammit. Thanks to the sessions at Crossroads, I know better about what is ahead, and I know how to navigate that process when it comes (watch for another, more practical post to come later this week). But thanks to Kathy and the other folks that sat or stood and listened to me ramble about my little book, I know that what I’m doing is legitimate, or at least that it can be.

If I can say that Crossroads did one thing for me, it made me believe in what I’m doing. It showed me that my efforts haven’t been that far off-point.

So thank you to the planners who pulled off the Crossroads conference.

And thanks to everyone for the laughs over dinosaur erotica and how it is a real thing, apparently (don’t be too afraid of that hyperlink…come on…you know you’re curious).


19 thoughts on “But Am I a Writer?

  1. You are a writer if you choose to be one! That’s all it takes. Everything else is a question of degree, and you make those choices yourself. You can be a good one, a bad one, a weird one, a dedicated one, a casual one, whatever. I like your “about” tag line — real teacher, actual human being. You need all your other “you’s” in order to be a writer. That’s where inspiration comes from. Good luck!

  2. You’re right. And all of my millions of “you’s,” or “me’s” I suppose, are poured into what I write in so many ways. Thanks for stopping by! It means a lot.

    • You’re very welcome! I met a writer once who deliberately used his “other you’s” here and there as way to add his personal touch to his work.

      I saw you started following my blog — thank you! Actually, I need to let you know that the “WritingSprint” blog isn’t being used right now. Go to “TheDaily400.” That’s the one where I’m active :-).

  3. Thanks for the good words, Shane! About the Crossroads conference and about me. My favorite line: “I am a writer. And I will finish this book because this story is worth telling, goddammit.” Amen, brother! Four comments: (1) Your story concept was captivating. (2) Try the morning writing. (3) Elevator pitch is one standard-height building floor or roughly 30 seconds. Pressing the CLOSE DOOR button doesn’t count. (4) You scored bonus points for spelling my name right, but I’m deducting those points for mentioning the dinosaur erotica. I checked Amazon to see if it was legit, and learned there is also orc and centaur erotica. Who knew?

    Seriously, thank you again. And I owe you a copy of my handout…as soon I dig out from conference.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kathy! I am going to give morning writing a shot, I think. It’s just going to take a little bit of re-training to get there consistently. Confession: I copied and pasted your name. So now, my points are in the red because of dino-erotica.

  4. Wow. Thanks for the shout-out, although I’m not sure I’m as gungho as you claimed – you forgot to mention all the abject terror that goes along with taking a step like this.

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