When do writers know they're writers?
I keep reading about people who have always been writers since they could actually read and write. When they were teenagers, they wrote poetry, short stories, angsty autobiographies, and even full length novels. They knew that they were writers at a young age at are following their dreams.
Not me. I had no clue when I was a kid or a teen. I didn't decide to even try writing until I was twenty one. I was reading an article on writing and thought to myself: Hey, I wonder if I could do that?
I decided to start small with poetry. It wasn't the proper sort of poetry of course. I don't care about iambic pentameter or . . . any of that other poetic structury type stuff. ;) I just took images in my mind and put them down in four line phrases.
Was it any good? Nope. A couple of them didn't suck, but for the most part they were pretty lame. I was impressed with them at the time and thought I had talent. However, it's quite a step going from a poem to a novel and I didn't succeed at finishing one of those until I was forty.
When did I decide I was a writer?
Well . . . I am a writer. I mean I've written books and short stories and I absolutely love it. But when did I know? I still don't know for sure.
You see, I'm a dreamer. I've spent my entire life daydreaming. I was raised in the desert and every memory I had was either wandering through the desert lost in thought, or at the library reading book after book.
Learning how to drive was a wonderful freedom for me. I've spent thousands of hours driving around, all the while daydreaming. I'd go to places where I'd look at the scenery and daydream some more. If I wasn't driving, I was walking. I had a walkman and a black trenchcoat and I'd spend hours and hours walking, listening to music and daydreaming.
Even in my choice of jobs, I took work where I could be alone and daydream, usually physical labor. I would learn my job well enough and do it on autopilot. Then I would daydream as I performed the tasks.
I'm a daydreamer first; writer second.
Eventually I figured out how to channel those daydreams. It's not at all easy and I have to focus to write. I have to stop myself from daydreaming in different directions than the scene in front of me and it's very difficult at times. When my imagination drifts, I have to drag it back to the task at hand.
One of the biggest problems I had to resolve was the fact that my daydreams always included me in some form or another. I liked going to fantasy worlds with magic and dragons, or going to sci-fi worlds with aliens and light speed ships. They always included me though. In writing novels, I have to take myself out of the story.
So I spent some time trying to decide who I would write about. I created characters that interested me and could be my friends if I had been in the story. As I continued to create, the characters began taking on their own lives. Once I was able to visualize a character, I could write the story from their viewpoint. As I've been writing, I visualize and make up the details of the world they live in. Little by little, I add more characters and create adventures for them.
Writing is so fun that I find myself panicking that I could lose my hands or be put in a position where I had to work two jobs with no time to write. The downside of having an imagination is that I can see all the terrible possibilities that could ruin my career. The worst of all would be losing the ability to use my mind. I think I would scream internally without stop if I became trapped in a shell of a body somehow; morbid, I know.
What it all boils down to is that I'm still a daydreamer. I can channel it into something productive now, but they're still daydreams just written on paper.