Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who are you, and what makes you happy?

Hi guys,

I hope you’re having a good week so far. Stay strong. It’s almost Friday.

So many people are going back to school this month, and I can’t help feeling nostalgic. I adored being at college. Although it was scary and frustrating at times, being at school taught me so many things. It helped me, above all, figure out what truly made me happy, what made me feel whole: I realized I wanted to be a writer.

I realized I wanted to be a. . . WHAT?

I’m not saying I had to go to college to finally figure this out. Not really. All I know is that leaving home for the first time, living abroad, meeting people from so many different backgrounds, triggered at that time in my life a strong desire to find myself and accept whoever I wanted to be. This could have happened under different circumstances, of course. It all depends.

Accepting who you are isn’t the easiest thing in the world. In my case, being able to say I’m a writer with confidence still is a challenge, but I’m working on that. I’ve always been a writer, but people (and even myself, I must admit) got so used to different facets of my identity, it surprises them to hear that I want to devote my life to fiction.

Not too long ago I came across a Twitter friend’s blog entry on how she introduced herself as a writer to a friend's mother once, and the lady asked to know where she could find her books. She still is seeking representation, which in my opinion doesn’t change the fact that she is a writer -- She writes, doesn’t she? That makes her a writer. But the lady, guess what, said, “Ah, so you’re not a writer yet.”

It makes me so mad to hear stuff like that!

So, she’s not a writer, because she is not published? What gives that lady the right to question her identity as a writer because her work is not on shelves?

Well, things like this -- and many more -- used to leave me really self-conscious about myself. If I say I’m a writer, people will want to know what I write, where they can find my writing, they’ll want to know whether my ‘title as a writer’ really is legit. And I’m not published. Fear of hearing “You’re not a writer” paralyzed me for many years. But I couldn't simply ignore that in the end of the day what really brought me consolation was writing fiction. Writing my YA stories was the spark that provided light in gloomy times. I had to find a way to ignore my self-consciousness and start fighting for myself. I had to embrace my identity, and disregard what people like the “So you’re not a writer yet” lady said. Because I felt like a writer. I lived like a writer. I breathed like a writer. I write, writing is what makes me happy, so I’m a writer.

I'm a writer!

I don’t know what inner battles you’re fighting, I don’t know if there are things about your identity you’d rather keep concealed to avoid questions, I don't know if you also are a writer trying to say to yourself and the world that you are a writer, thank you very much. But there’s a moment when your true self will shine so bright you won’t be able to hide it from others and yourself. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, but being able to say I’m a writer leaves me relieved whenever I say it, so I guess it’s good. It makes me happy. What makes you happy? Fight for it, despite what others will think, and despite the many mean things your self-doubt will whisper in your ears. Just listen to your heart.  


  1. Thank you for this lovely post. I'm at the same stage: Trying to come out of the closet, so to speak, as a writer even though I'm not yet published. I read something not too long ago that encouraged me. Here it is:

    "Hemingway didn't know he was Ernest Hemingway when he was a young man. Faulkner didn't know he was William Faulkner. But they had to take the first step. They had to call themselves writers. That is the first revolutionary act a writer has to make. It takes courage. But it's necessary.” Pat Conroy

  2. I struggled for a long time to be able to "own" being a writer. Say it loud and say it proud! Great post. :)

  3. I love when posts like these are written and shared. It's important for this to be said again and again, if only because it's comforting to writers.

    I've been blessed to grow up in an artistic family -- my grandmother is a musician and painter; my father is a musician now; my cousin is a photographer and architect. When I announced that I was a writer, it was not only accepted, it was understood. Being any kind of artist is about identity and life style and creativity, and not about public successes.

    So while I've grown up supported & never too worried to claim my identity as a writer, I have always struggled with what other people think that means. I do try, though, to realign what the assumptions attached to "writer" should or shouldn't be. When someone reminds me I'm not *really* a writer because I'm not published, I usually say, "I'm still a writer. I'm just not an author."

    Which has its own problematic assumptions, but it's the best I've come up with yet. Because I do think any person can identify as a writer, if that's what she wants to be, while I think "author" goes more with the profession of being a published writer.

  4. What a wonderful post. Very inspiring. I may not be published, but I consider myself a writer. I don't know what I'd do if someone found out I'd never published anything and told me I wasn't a writer yet. I'd likely feel extremely bad and embarrassed. But this post is awesome and comforting for us writers. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the brilliant post! I get a lot of 'looks' if I ever call myself a writer - I'm 18, and therefore apparently all I should write is essays - so I don't mention it.


    Amy x

  6. Great post Rebecca! This is something I know I struggle with. Even when it comes to explaining concepts I'm a little timid because I'm afraid someone will question my career choice. This was inspiring...I needed a kick in the pants, haha :)

  7. Hey guys! I'm so, so glad you liked this post. I must confess I was a little worried to share something that is so personal -- it's almost like a secret, really. But this is YA Stands, after all. We are 'young adult authors standing together in the realm of YA,' right? So, I thought to myself, "If I'm going through this, perhaps other writers out there also are facing the same challenge." I wondered whether we could support each other on this. I guess I was right. Thank you. You guys are awesome!

  8. Wonderful post! Very relevant to me. I still struggle with saying, "I'm a writer." In fact, I don't. The alternative (housewife sans kids) doesn't make me feel any better, but I don't want to be faced with the barrage of questions that will end in "So you're not really a writer." I guess in my mind, I make the distinction betw. writer and author -- the latter being published. I can't be the only one who thinks, "Oh, I'll tell ppl once I'm repped and/or published." How I wish I wasn't so crippled by these insecurities!

  9. Good post. I'm one of the closet writers struggling to break out. You inspire me. Thanks.

  10. Often I find myself hesitant to say I am a writer, but I am. It's nice to know there are others out there who feel the same way as I do.

  11. What an awesome, inspirational post! I'm an unpublished, unrepresented writer and I, too, find it difficult to talk about. Some friends even skirt around the issue of "my hobby," because I think they're embarrassed for me. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I write anymore though. I'm proud that, unlike so many others, I'm not scared to chase after my dream.

  12. What an awesome, inspirational post! I'm an unpublished, unrepresented writer and I, too, find it difficult to talk about. Some friends even skirt around the issue of "my hobby," because I think they're embarrassed for me. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I write anymore though. I'm proud that, unlike so many others, I'm not scared to chase after my dream.

  13. Aww, guys, thank you for the thoughtful comments. There are so many things I'd like to discuss here. I'm seriously considering making my blogging days a moment to sit down and talk about and fight the many things that frustrate us. I'm glad we're in this together.

  14. Those are some good points. And yes, I am a writer. =) ~Aidyl