About three years ago, I was at the end of the end of my rope at my former job. I had been battling with my former boss for three days about 250 words (!!!!) for the back cover of a book. I was now on my third draft of this cover copy and I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to fight through another version. I lost all ability to BS at that point and my HIGH PISSOSITY was showing full force. I saw my good friend Jessica in the hallway briefly and by that point she could read me well enough to know that I was not myself that day. We didn’t have much time to chat so we commenced one of our epic e-mail chains.
I told her about the multiple revisions for the back cover copy and how I was just tired of being beaten down for my ability to write, especially when I knew that I had the ability to write anything that I put my mind to. She wrote back a few words of encouragement and ended her e-mail with a bold, purple-lettered, 24-point phrase that simply said –
YOU. ARE. A WRITER.
It was just the reminder that I needed that day. Why was I letting this measly 250 words make me doubt my God-given talent when I had written MILLIONS of BRILLIANT, INSPIRING, and UPLIFTING words over the course of my life? I sat at my desk looking at those bright, bold, purple letters on my screen with my eyes near brimming with tears knowing that Jess was absolutely right. I’ve kept that e-mail ever since so that I NEVER, EVER forget that BEING A WRITER is EXACTLY what God put me on the planet to do.
I began recognizing that holding on to a dream of being a writer is not an easy vision to maintain in a world filled with hard, cold reality. There are naysayers, spirit crushers, and seemingly well-meaning family members and friends who will advise you against following such a lofty goal. I was reminded of this truth about a week ago when I had the pleasure of dinning with my good friend, Laura, and my newly anointed Fairy Godmother of Communications, Barbara. Barbara shared with me that she, too, had grand aspirations of being a writer but was steered into a more stable career as a communications professional by a close family member. I was comforted to know that I wasn’t the only one striving to keep my writing dreams alive.
Let’s face it. Unless your last name is Morrison, Faulkner, Angelou, Hemingway, or Baldwin, being a writer will probably not make you sexy, famous, rich, or earn you a 90-minute, Beyonce-like HBO special. Devoting your life to words will not give you a six-figure salary or a cushy corner office. But as crazy as a life of self-imposed poverty and literary torture sounds, I’m willing to risk a few brain cells to begin my debut novel with a phrase like this —
Quiet as it’s kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow. — “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
Sure, the only people that might buy my future novel are my siblings and their spouses (lucky for me that’s at least 12 people!) but I’d die happy ending a phenomenal novel with —
God only gets mad at us when we come down here and pretend to be something that we’re not. That really pisses Him off. — “Just As I Am” by E. Lynn Harris
And maybe I’ll never be a Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author with a tony job as a literary professor (Yeah, I’m envying your life, Toni Morrison), but I’d give anything to create a timeless verse like this —
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before me, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:15 by The Apostle Paul
I’m tired of hearing my kindred writing souls giving up on their gifts because some well-meaning yet small-minded person tells them to “get real” and give up that crack dream of being a writer. I’m frustrated with overzealous editors with mean red pens and cruel hearts crushing the creativity right out of people. If it’s your dream to write the Great American Novel, write on! If you aspire to become the next blogging sensation, you better type until your fingers bleed. Don’t let your haters stop you from LIVING your dream. You’re better than that. And besides you can easily turn them into a nemesis who tragically dies in your first Pulitzer prize-winning novel.
I now know that I write because I HAVE to. I write because it’s my worship to God. I write because my day wouldn’t be complete without tapping out a few words on my keyboard that ignite my soul. I write because I couldn’t DREAM of being me without the power to EMPOWER, INSPIRE, and UPLIFT another soul through the written word.
As my favorite college professor always said to me, “Writing gives you the power to write yourself and your world into existence.” A new world is literally waiting to be born at the end of your fingertips. Don’t waste another minute choking your words with fear and self-doubt. Get out there and write the words that will CHANGE THE WORLD because
(and yes, I mean YOU)
ARE. A. WRITER.