On Becoming A Writer
Growing up I wanted to be a mermaid/ballerina/astronaut.
As far as I can tell, my life hasn't turned out quite like my 6-year-old imagination thought it would. Instead, I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Language and cannot dance (much to the dismay of a huge portion of my Hispanic merengue-salsa-drunk dancing family).
Looking back, it was probably my dad's love for Stargate and Firefly and all things sci-fi that made me think going to space was a cool idea. Then I saw Alien ("In space no one can hear you scream").
But all that aside, I spent years of my life deciding that I loved literature, languages, and the agony of editing and re-editing and re-re-editing enough to become "a writer." And I somehow still love it enough to try to get my MFA in Poetry.
Along the way I have learned a lot about myself, writing, and calling myself a writer.
1. You've got to want it.
The same as anything else in life. There are days I don't want to write, pick up a book, or even think about any of it. And on some of those days I don't. I give myself the liberty to relax and admire my brothers' ability to play video games with such dexterity. But on most other days, it's all I can think about it. And that's how you know.
2. You've got to take the good and the bad.
It feels great when people praise your work. It boosts your ego, speaks wonders about all the time you've put in to better your writing. But, as nice as it is to hear all the good people have to say, there are critiques. And it is important to listen carefully and seriously to their concerns. Maybe it leads you to another publication, corrects real issues, or starts new adventures in editing. Maybe it doesn't. But that's up to you.
3. It takes time.
Thinking about it now, it has been about a decade since I started on this path. I was somewhere in 8th grade when I began carrying a notebook and sketching out ideas, writing one- or two-liners, doodling words in the corners of my papers... and I don't think I am too far along from there.
4. It's up to you.
I chose to call myself a writer before calling myself a "marketing professional" (even though I have the experience to follow that path). I chose to call myself a writer before I got published in school papers and official undergraduate magazines and all that (because at the end of the day I would keep writing). I chose to call myself a writer. Poet.
And if you really want to do something, what's going to stop you?