I am so hesitant to call myself a writer. Or to even admit to having aspirations to write in some professional, serious, ‘this is my career’, type of manner.
I know this limitation is my own self-inflicted standard, that unless I am published than I am not a writer. It is also a thinly veiled acknowledgment of my insecurities and fear of failure.
I have had a couple of conversations recently that have encouraged me to embrace my desire to write, and to call myself a writer, with more confidence. I have spent sometime over the last few months with a dear friend who is an established artist; she regularly receives significant commissions and is well known for her amazing pieces. We have been spending time discussing her new website that she has asked me to edit the text for. She often calls me a poet, it slips of her tongue easily and with conviction. It shocks me every time. She is quick to acknowledge that words are my ‘thing’ and encourages me to purse words and writing. I am so grateful for the ease in which she speaks life into me.
The other conversation I had was with a new friend who recently retrained and is now working in the film industry. She had a complete career change and is now pursuing a creative career that she loves. I was chatting with her about writing and how much I love poetry and would love to pursue more poetry. I said to her, ‘I know it sounds a bit silly’. And she immediately replied, ‘No, it doesn’t sound silly at all. I get that’. I was shocked by her response. I usually get blank stares or ‘that’s a nice hobby’ comments. She understood that it was more than a ‘hobby’, she understood that I had just revealed something from the depth of me. And she ‘got it’.
Both these ladies have given space in their lives to pursing their creative gifts. The inspire me and give me hope. They also embody an understanding that the pursuit of the creative is worthwhile in itself and a valid possibility.
It reminded me of something I read in Madeline L’Engle’s book, ‘Walking on Water: Reflections on faith and art’:
“If the work comes to the artist and says, ‘Here I am, serve me,’ then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve. The amount of the artist’s talent is not what it is about. Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, ‘Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.”
I am encouraged to just keep feeding the lake. To embrace the act of writing, stop worrying about the labels and expectations, and get on with putting words on paper. These ladies are beacons of light, leading the way and beckoning me on. I am glad to be lakeside with them.