October 31, 2005

Two Books in Two Years

I realized today that for the first time I actually feel like a writer. For years, ever since I was in junior high, I wanted to be a writer. I've written as part of my jobs since college--articles in high-tech magazines like EE Times, vast reference tomes for operating systems programming, press releases and brochures, and hundreds of thousands of words of web content. But I really have had that yearning to be a fiction writer. Stories, novels, whatever. But that's where I wanted to be.

And all along, the thought that I was really just a poseur, a wannabe, hovered just behind me saying "no" constantly, just like the "bit" that followed Jeff Bridges around in Tron. I read articles about writing, and every one of them says things like, "A real writer has stories that just have to be written. A real writer simply can't not write." And the dread that I was getting older and no stories had knocked me in the head to say, "WRITE ME" kept growing.

Earlier this year I finished my first novel, which began as an experimental foray into NaNoWriMo. Nope, haven't even tried to publish it yet, but the three people who've read it seem to like it. This year I will write another, then return to the first to revise with the intent to publish in the future.

And now, today, for the first time, I feel like a real writer. NaNoWriMo doesn't start until tomorrow. I can't officially start my novel until then. But my characters have been with me for a year, like friends who moved away and are coming back to town, and they are tugging me forward into November, eager to fill me in on what they've been up to and the people they've met and the changes in their lives. There is a story there that wants to be written. It may not make a publishable book in the end, but it's a story I want to hear, and the characters are ready to tell it.

I think I'll wait until December first to see how well I do. Needing to write is only part of being a writer. Actually writing is the other part. My "bit" hovering behind me won't start saying "yes" until December 1st, and maybe not even then because revising is the third part of being a writer, and I've not conquered that yet. But I can feel the tide turning, and now I know that indeed, a writer is what I am in the same way that a father is what I am.