Who Gets to Be a Writer?

Who gets to be a writer, Lela Davidson

When I was a kid, I liked the idea of writing. I didn't understand that most of writing is re-writing, so when my stories were plain and terrible, I stopped writing.

Somehow I always came back.

I was talking to a writer yesterday who said this thing she has said to me many times:

"All I've ever wanted is for other people to read my words."

That definitely makes me feel like NOT a writer.

Because having others read my words is not all I've ever wanted.

  • I've wanted to create something and point at the finished product.
  • I've wanted to entertain and educate.
  • I've wanted the attention that comes from tapping into what others are thinking and showing it back to them, shined up and delivered with a laugh.
  • I've wanted to make sense of my own confusing thoughts.
  • I've wanted to vent on the page and come out the other side calmer.
  • I've wanted to master a craft that seems impossible, and at the same time I've appreciated that I'll never  be as good as I want to be, so I get to keep practicing forever.

Writing has been a lot of things to me. It's the one thing that never gets boring. But having others read my words has never been my sole driving desire. There are so many other things to want, after all.


But a writer is someone who writes. Period.


You don't have to write every day, or make money from writing, or even get published. Although all those things are nice, and I want them all the time.

My writing is not as consistent as it was when it was my JOB, but it still follows a similar pattern.

Every year, throughout the late fall and holidays, I get more creative. I spend more time writing, planning writing, playing with writing. Probably because I have more time to spend.

The rest of the year I'm pretty good at getting things done, at results, hitting deadlines and making logical connections in my writing. But in the fall I am more creative. I go deeper and bring more out of myself. I can accept, and also get past, the place where I write things like "bring more out of myself" which I would never say with my actual mouth but that somehow comes out in the shittiest of first drafts.

I get closer to my own voice. I get out of my own way. Plus all that other crap writers say.


And then January happens.


Every year it's the same. I vow to be more creative, to write more in the coming year.

In March I open my journal to see it's been months since I've written anything. Cue the self-berating.

Why don't I commit to writing? Do I even really want to write? Who am I trying to kid?

I'm no writer.

When I moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2004, the first thing I did was sign up for a class and join a critique group. I also sneaked out of work early every other Tuesday for an informal gathering of ladies who wrote together at Barnes & Noble.

While the more official writer's group taught me the mechanics of writing and editing, the Tuesday group was focused on actual writing. We wrote together, on demand, and then shared that writing with each other, all of us responding to the same prompts. Those ladies got me because they were facing the same blank page I was.

Who knew what might come out?

I wanted that group experience again, so I started Second Story Writer's Workshop.

That was the only way to get what I wanted the way I wanted it. I'm bossy like that.

The first class sold out, and the people who showed up were all kinds of writers: Newbies, old pros, those who wrote for pay and those who wrote to understand their feelings about an ex. Or a teenager. Or a best friend who no longer was.

Together we wrote about printer jams and mangrove trees, traveling preachers and homeless fantasies. We wrote about things we wanted and things we wanted no part of. We wrote poems and stories and plays. We were smart and sweet and vulgar. We wrote hundreds of pages between us.

When I look at my notebook now, it gets spotty in April, after the first Second Story session ended. But I've been writing more this year than in a long time.

I know others will continue to read and hear my words, even while I'm over here wanting all these other things. I never really know what's next for me.

But I know I'll figure it out on the pages of a cheap spiral notebook.

Would you like to write and you don't know where to start? Do you think the accountability and camaraderie of a writing group sounds like fun? Check out Second Story Writer's Workshop. Guaranteed to get you writing.