Recently, in the spirit of the National Novel Writing Month movement, I assigned to myself the task of writing 500 words a day instead of the 1,666.66 words per day a person would need to reach 50,000 for NaNoWriMo's winner's circle. I wanted a more sustainable practice; I wanted every month to be about writing a novel. I wanted to be a writer again.
The trouble with being a writer is that you have work through things. You have to work through your life. Things like work and laundry and cooking dinner and friends and holidays. You have to write through even though this writing work you do fails to add to your family's bottom-line. Even though the work you do pulls at you, tugs at you like a toddler that wants to go, NOW, drags you away from your loved ones whether in body or in spirit. The words want to be written even though they offer at that time no apparent value other than to assuage your soul, clear your thoughts.
The trouble with being a writer is that you have to work through disappointment and rejection. There are thousands of places to publish, thousands of editors and agents and magazines and publishers. You send things out into the ether. Each one with a kiss and prayer. They return to you. Some unstained; some sullied by the experience. You dust them off and send them out again. All the while tending to new words that seek to join their brethren in flight.
You do this for love. Not of money or of fame. But love of words and stories and the people who read them. You do it for yourself. Because you have something to say. Something so loud that if you don't spill it out, your head will crack open like the Grand Canyon. But not like the Grand Canyon; that canyon is beautiful, awe inspiring. This would be more like the gateway to hell. A seething red cavern whose depths no one wished to plunge.
So today, I continue writing, even just putting down these words and hoping for the best. Hoping that by understanding this my process, my means, my desires, I will continue to write my 500 words a day. I will continue to be a person who writes. A writer. Instead of just a mother, wife, friend, daughter, teacher. I will be something that doesn't define me by my relationship to others, only by my relationship to myself. And that, in the end, is why I write. I write to be me.