I first considered being a writer in high school; I knew I wanted to be one in college.
But “writer” is not a practical career choice. And I was so close, anyway, to becoming a teacher.
So I became one. And I loved it.
Still I wrote. I had the germ of an idea for a novel. I had (already) ten or more journals, filled end to end. But I was a teacher, and other people–more talented, more intelligent, more published–were writers.
I became a mother. I wrote about my children. I went to graduate school. I wrote about writers. I had a score of journals filled end to end and several reams of work on a novel. I had a blog–a place to write about my children–but found myself writing both about them and everything else, because, to me, nothing seemed like it it had truly happened until it was written down.
But writing doesn’t make you a writer, does it? There must be (mustn’t there be?) something to show for it? Something approved? Published?
Then, after graduate school, when my children were no longer babies, toddlers, home-schooled youngsters; when I was teaching full-time and paring hours from the edges of weeks to write; one night, I hied me to the bookstore for coffee, quiet, and uninterruption. I had no laptop; I had forgotten my notebook. So I bought one and, in the span of thirty minutes, wrote a description of a view from a trolley window.
And then I wrote a book.
There are hours and years more to that story. Four more years until the novel was finished, and two more of editing to make it intelligible to anyone but me. Yet in all that time, all those words, all those pages, I wouldn’t call myself a writer.
A blogger? Yes. And I might, when pressed or feeling especially secure, tell someone I was writing a book.
But actually call myself a writer? No. There were too many writers to admire, who did the job so much better than I. And too many others who knew what good writing–real writing–looked like.
The most I could do was aspire.
And now I am an author–or will be, anyway–when my first novel Healing Maddie Brees is launched in September 2016. While I wait for that exciting day, I am at work on a second work of adult literary fiction and have yet a third in my line-up, along with a non-fiction book for children, and another for adults.
I guess that makes me a writer.
Now I realize–with the eloquent clarity of hindsight–that I have been a writer for a long time. What was I doing otherwise, in all those silent hours, during which I filled erstwhile empty pages and blank screens with line after line of words?
But maybe every writer has her own definition for the term. And for me, its meaning inheres in those hours, days and weeks, in the resolute volition required–among everyday life’s demands–to fill the void with words. To feel the void in the first place.
As an artist friend once said of her making art, of my writing: We do it because we have to. “I don’t think we have a choice.”
So. I am Rebecca Brewster Stevenson. I am a writer. This is my website.