Writing is hard work, but it is also joy. It's the companionship of characters we come to love. It's the creation of a world that readers may want to visit ~ and for me, it's the promise of endings which offer a glimpse of kindness and hope that the non-fictional world often lacks.
After my most recent talk, a student came up to ask some additional questions. He seemed hesitant to admit that he wrote poetry and reminded me of myself when I was in college. I'd been writing since early childhood, but for a long time was reticent to admit this.
I repeated to the student—to the poet— what I had said in my opening comments, what I boldly repeat here because it is so, so, SO important.
Being published does not make you a writer. I confess that walking into a bookstore or library and seeing the words I've written in solitude proudly bound and sitting on a shelf is wonderful in the truest, most expansive sense of the word. I am thrilled to hear that students are reading and discussing those words and that some words have even received shiny notice. But I also know that I was a writer when most of my words remained banded together and stuffed in a drawer. Truth be told, many of my words still get stuffed in that bulging drawer.
Being a writer, as I told the students who came to hear me speak, as I repeated to the poet who stopped by afterwards, is a way of seeing and experiencing the world and wanting to capture what you see and experience through words and images.
So many unpublished poets and writers weave their gossamer strands of truth in quiet, unheralded solitude. A week of happy notice is thrilling, but what makes me a writer is here and now, sitting at my table, chasing words that might somehow capture my gratitude and joy.