I’ve been asked to confront what writing means to me and what it gives me several times in the past few weeks. I had a novel that was really close to my heart that was rejected. I put my soul and spirit into that book. I had someone make negative comments about my writing on the heels of that rejection and today, I found out that I was screened out of a competition for a writer and editor position that I would have loved and where my writing was found lacking.
I feel like spirit, fate, the universe, whatever you want to call it, is asking me to take a really hard look at what writing gives me. I keep going back to when I couldn’t write, when I was bed ridden and not able to type let alone sit at a computer for very long. I remember taking hours to type out a few words and then making poems, feeling a sense of immense accomplishment at being able to write, despite what the MS was doing to me.
I’ve been thinking on the times it has brought me solace when I needed an escape, when I was growing up in an abusive home or when I later found myself in an emotionally abusive marriage followed by another abusive relationship. The world I created during that time were dark, but they felt more like home than the real world did.
There have been so many times when writing has brought me incredible joy. I remember the moment I started writing Boyfriends, which later became Lust and Lemonade, after having the characters in my head for over ten years. I often recall the feeling I got when The Ghost Mirror, my first novel, was published.
I’ve always had more words than I knew what to do with. With every word I have lay down on the page, I have found a bit more of myself that I didn’t even know I was missing. I am in almost every character I’ve written, parts of my personality throughout all of them. They are as real to me as the people I know and love in the physical world.
My writing is part of me. It’s me on the page, sometimes with the guise of fiction and other times without. I’ve been trying to think of why this particular book rejection and negative comments hurt me so much. Writing for me has always been like breathing and the two of them together and now the added weight of the competition rejection almost feel like the world is telling me to be quiet, not to write, to let my words remain silent.
I can’t do that. I won’t.
Words have always been a way for me to engage with the world, to share what I’ve seen, what I dream, what I desire and what I love. They have been my constant through some horrible times in my life when I always had a journal with me. They’ve also been with me during the fabulous times in my life, like when my husband and I first got married. Words and writing have been part of my life since I was young. I thought of the very first story I can remember writing, about a myth about why the camel had his hump (spoiler alert: he lost his sweater and got cold). I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.
I don’t know why all of this shook my foundations so much, but I think it’s because I really needed to take a deep look at why I write and why it matters so much to me. I needed to reach deep into my spirit and self, where the ink well is within me, and run my hands through its stream to feel the ink on my fingers so that I could be reminded that writing is part of my blood. I needed to reach deep down into me and pull these words out to let them out of me. They’ve been waiting within me for some time now. Thankfully, they were patient enough for me to come to them and welcome them to the page.
In the end, I think my foundations were shaken because I valued someone else’s opinions over mine. I know that I’m a good writer and that my work has touched people’s lives. I don’t write merely because I can. I write because I have to. I had forgotten that for a moment. I’m also guilty of giving away my power to other people and getting nothing but silence in return. I don’t want to think of writing differently or changing the way I write based on other people’s views. I need to write the only way I know how.
I don’t write because I want to. I write because I am writer. Thankfully, spirit gave me the reminder that I needed.