When I was small, one of my favorite books was called, Are you my Mother? In it, a confused baby bird wanders around asking an unlikely selection of characters – including a cow and a JCB digger — whether they are its mother. They are not, of course. One is too brown, another too big, and a third not feathered enough. Finally, the mother bird returns — with a big juicy worm for the baby — and announces, “I am your mother”. Sighs of relief all round.
Even after reading the book just once, the question, “Are you my Mother?” rang in my mind, but after a dozen or more readings, it was thoroughly imprinted.
Over the years, though, that question has been dislodged by another, more pressing one. This question may sound familiar. The question I have found myself asking over the years is: “Are you a Writer?”. I have always wanted to be able to answer with a confident, “Yes”, but more often my answers are like those of the characters in my favorite book. “No, I’m too____” or “No, I’m not ____ enough.”
First I was too busy with the day job, and not confident enough, to write and submit work. Then, when I joined a writers’ group and began submitting and publishing work, I was too much of a butterfly, with an article here and a story there, but no coherent body of work that I could point to and use to identify myself as a writer. How I envied authors who belonged to a particular genre or form. “I am a poet.” “I am a business writer.” “I am a novelist.” I was all of those things at odd moments, but none with any great success. Finally, I narrowed my focus, and while I still write all kinds of things, I am first and foremost a romantic novelist.
Still, I waited for a convincing answer to my question.
“Are you a writer?”
“Well, kind of, but I’ve only got a novella out at the moment. I am only published in e-book form. Does that count?”
Perhaps it did to my envious listeners, but in my mind I was still waiting for the one piece of tangible proof that would convince me I was a writer: a paperback novel with my name on the front.
Last week, for the first time, I held that proof in my hands. Finally, I have an answer to the question: “Are you a Writer?”
“Yes, I am, and I have my book Perfect Partners to prove it.”
Of course, I realize now how silly I was to wait for that proof. Nothing has changed. I am still the same person I have been every step of the journey. I may have physical evidence now that I am a writer, but that is the only difference. The true answer is still the same as it has always been: “Yes, I am a writer. I love words. I love to play with words, to put them on paper and send them out into the world.”
If you have been wondering how you will know the answer to the question, here it is. Do you love to write? Do you, now and again, find time to put words on paper (or on your computer screen) and enjoy the result? If so, then yes, you are a writer.
Do not wait for the world to tell you.
Tell the world: “I am a writer!”