The (aspiring) writer

‘I don’t believe in the phrase ‘aspiring’ writer. To me, it’s… just, you’re a writer. Go write!’

Says Shonda Rhimes in the opening seconds of MasterClass’s Official Teaser, ‘Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television’.

How does this makes you feel? Inspired? Sad?

It all depends on what ‘aspiring writer’ means to you.

To some, it is a testament of modesty. To some, it is a testament of false modesty. To some, it’s a crutch — such was the case for me.

For many years I didn’t considered myself a writer because I was not published. To me, being a writer meant having my name on a pretty book cover.

(For the next paragraph, please bear in mind that at 32, I am a bit of a ‘dinosaur’.)

Then technology happened. In the last 15 years, evolution has been tremendous. From blogs to social media, everything is at the tip of our fingers. Just now, as I write this, Medium’s ‘Publish’ button catches my eye, reminding me that as soon as I click on it, my words will be available for reading.

‘Am I writer?’

I am sure must of us have this inherent self-doubt, even if we don’t admit to it — sometimes not even to ourselves. This happens because writing comes from a complex amalgam of personal experience an imagination. Writing (at least as I see it) is deeply personal. Yet, it is made for and is subject to public scrutiny. Writing in itself is a bit of a paradox!

I don’t think I was ‘born to be writer’ — if I’m being totally honest, I don’t think anyone is. It is more powerful than that: we become writers. Either because we read a lot, or because something happens to us or because or journal turns into a blog and the blog into a memoir. Becoming a writer is a process, a voyage towards your inner-self: a process which is never complete and is forever changing — and that is O.K.

If you feel like a writer, great. If your self-confidence still needs that ‘aspiring’ prior to the big W, that is fine too. In the end, it does not matter what you call yourself — if you often find yourself with a pen or laptop in hand, writing to your heart’s content*, that’s all that matters.

(*Sometimes before being able to write to your heart’s content you have to fight crippling self-doubt, face blank page induced anxiety attacks and have full on rage fits. All part of the damn process. Nobody said this writing thing was easy — and most of the time it isn’t, we’re just masochists like that.)

Allow me to share with you a quote from one of my favorite books, ‘Letters to a Young Poet’, by Rainer Maria Rilke:

‘There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge.’

There you have it: write because you have to. Call yourself whatever you want to. If you feel the urge to write, do it. In my experience, writing is the only good drug that is out there: the more you write, the more you will want to write. It will make you feel better and want to be better. So dig deep, fellow (imperfect) writers, for possibilities await at the end of every finished page!