Thursday, January 17, 2008

What? Me? A Writer?

Last year, I became a novelist.

I say this with trepidation, because who am I to call myself that? Can one merely write words on a page, in some sort of order, for the required amount of pages, and then proceed to call oneself a novelist?

Well, I hope so!

That’s what I did when I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November. I sat down for 30 days, writing approximately 1667 words per day, and ended up with a little book of over 50,000 words. And presto chango, I’m a novelist, with a certificate, and everything!

Labeling myself a novelist is very hard for me; the same for calling myself a poet. In my mind, I’m just Liz, a woman who spends her free time trying to come up with the perfect metaphor for eating spaghetti, or the last line in a story about a Martian who hems drapes.

I’m certainly not a writer! Ugh, that’s the BIG word I avoid using to describe myself.

As I’ve been thinking about why I fear calling myself a novelist, poet, and/or writer, I’ve realized this avoidance stems from how I’ve defined these terms, a definition I began to forge somewhere between elementary school, and Satan’s armpit, or junior high.

In my mind, a writer (et al.) is someone who is a) super cool, b) super smart, c) super witty, d) dresses in black, e) has unkempt hair, f) wears really big glasses, and g) takes black and white pictures of themselves on an angle like he or she can’t be bothered to look at the camera.

I don’t possess any of these traits (well, maybe the crazy hair bit, but without the black and the glasses, I just look unhygienic). And so you can see my problem: I’ve defined something that excludes myself. And I think we’ve all done this at some point.

Why do we do things like this? (And by “we,” I mean me.) Are we afraid of ridicule? Of failure? Of having to explain to our grandma that although international business communications would be a more lucrative career, we’d much rather live off Cup O’Noodles while we write our collection of sonnets dedicated to the musical stylings of REO Speedwagon?

The answer, of course, is unique to each of us. But, it’s one that we all have to face.

It’s taken me a long time to let the fear go, and to actually accept that I am a writer. I am a novelist. I am a poet. (FYI: Writing these last 12 words have, still, almost made me go into spastic fits.)

But, there you have it.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the great geniuses of the last century, Popeye the Sailor Man, “I Yam what I Yam.”

And I am whatever I define myself to be.


Temporary Home

This blogsite is our temporary home while our website undergoes an extreme makeover of epic proportions (shifted septums, pacemakers, calf implants, dialysis, a fancy wig, contacts -- the works).

This was our old home, and while it is a bit dated, it's a good source of info regarding recent issues and the history of Prism Review.

Updates will follow regarding our new home. ETA summer 2009.