Friday, January 18, 2013

What It Means to be a Writer, The New School of Thought

I recently bought a sort of "how to book" for aspiring writers on Kindle. It wasn't an expensive purchase, it cost me $0.00 to download. I eagerly began reading and quickly discovered the book wasn't worth the zero pennies I'd paid for it and despite myself I kept reading, thinking it was bound to get better. There would be something significant buried between the verbose and repetitive pages. More than 40% of this book later I feel as though I greatly wasted my time.

And yet, I also feel encouraged. You see, if he could do it...

Despite the fact that his writing was cheesy, far from riveting  and majorly lacking in actual content. The main concept of his book stuck with me: To be a writer, you just have to believe it.

That's it.

My dad would argue that to be a writer you actually have to write. A true writer, he has told me before, doesn't concern themselves with what other people think, they write because they have to. They write constantly, because they are compelled to. Not writing, would be in essence like starving. Dedication, time, and passion are the keys to success as a writer and ultimately the satisfaction comes from within. These words produce an image in my mind of someone chained to their computer, literally wasting away as they ferociously type every spare minute of the day. defines a writer as: a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation. An author or a journalist. This definition, with the emphasis and inflection on the italicized words more accurately defines how I've looked at it during the years. If I'm not actively writing a book, then I must not be a writer. I can't claim to be a writer until I've been validated as one via publication or career. These inflections, give way to self doubt, and self doubt will, be frank, self doubt is a female dog who will jump up and rip the flesh right off your tushy every time you give her the chance.

So where does that leave me then? A wife, mother, friend/sister, ministry leader, and {basically}full time employee (oh, and lets not forget I'm currently pregnant with my third). There isn't enough time in my life to fit in the type of writing my dad describes as necessary. Yet, when I write I feel alive in a way that nothing else can touch. My thoughts become more coherent and my connection with my Lord increases tenfold. Since starting this blog two years ago, I've learned that the more I write, the more I want to write. I never would have said that I feel like I'm starving when I'm not writing, but I've discovered that when I'm not writing my fuse is shorter, my relationship with the Lord suffers, and my creativity all but dries up. That sort of sounds a bit like starving doesn't it?

But what has happened time and time again, both in this space and in other writing pursuits,  is I allow that self doubt to come in and take chunk after painful and gory chunk out of my otherwise cute little tushy. That's where the first school of thought must come back into play. At some point, you have to believe you are what you want to become, or you wont ever be able to stand up to the pressures and doubts long enough to succeed. Ultimately, you aren't going to get that public validation until you have believed in yourself enough to put a muzzle on that self doubt and lock it in a kennel. Throw away the key too, wont you please?

The Lord has blessed me with a handful of women who have made it their mission to encourage me in my writing. Women whom without, my blog would have died out many many moons ago. The Lord has used each of these women to validate me and my passion on multiple occasions throughout the last two years. I have their words embedded deep in my heart for safe keeping. My husband, my greatest supporter, has been telling me for years that I can do it, that I just need to believe in myself. Oddly enough, I would just ignore him. Almost as though his confidence in me was falsified because we are married. As a result, he'd say "believe in yourself" and I would roll my eyes at him and hmph with my arms crossed or back turned. Easier said than done, right? Not according to this idiot who published an ebook. According to him, it just requires repeating the words "I am a writer" over and over, and owning them. Stupid, right? That's what I thought, and yet shortly after I'd started my blog one of my cheerleaders came up to me and said 'Teresa, I just wanted to tell you that you are not an aspiring ARE a writer. I do a lot of reading, and consider myself to be extremely critical, and you have it, you are a writer."

The confidence meter soared off the mark. Occasionally I replay those words, when I need to motivate myself to break out of my pattern and get going again. My dad might say that it shouldn't matter that she feels this way, and yet it made all of the difference for me. So, that begs the question, if a friend telling me I'm a writer can increase my confidence so drastically what would happen if I said it, believed it, owned it?

So starts the mantra. "I'm Teresa Thomas, and I am a writer. I'm a writer. I can write. I love to write. Teresa Thomas the writer." Believing it, has driven me to commit to writing in this blog faithfully again, and once I get into a good routine here, I may even work on some of those other pursuits that have been collecting dust. Owning of that phrase or series of phrases, is what prompted me to change my blog header to make it reflect the style of the many writer/author blogs which litter the web.

It's scary, taking this leap, but I believe that I've made big strides this month, understanding what inflections cause my self doubt to rage, and taking hold of both my dads idea of a writer and the idiots idea of it, putting them together in a sort of mangled ball and simply putting this new school of thought into action. The validation I've received from my friends/cheerleaders, along side the newly added praises of my husband, are safeguarding my heart so that when that self doubt comes rushing into the room charged, angry, ready to attack, I am ready and able to stand strong with a tight tush that can withstand the worst abuse. These poor women probably feel like their efforts and words have been fruitless because I've drifted and allowed myself to enter that starvation phase that is not writing, so many times. But I assure you, them, and the Lord, they have not. I'm relying on those words greatly right now.

Teresa Thomas,
A Writer

I hope you will join me next Friday for my On Writing post tentatively titled "It's 5 O'clock Somewhere"


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