I haven’t been writing for a while now. It was a conscious decision on my part after being overwhelmed with family crap, family medical crap, general life (and death) crap. Something had to give. I kept trying to write but didn’t or couldn’t and then I felt guilty about not writing. This went on for a long time until I finally gave myself permission to not write. The guilt went away. But eventually I felt like an imposter. A poser. I still told people I was a writer, but was I? Was I really?
Assurances from my writer friends that I’m still a writer, even if I’m not writing right now, helped keep me in the game (if only on the sidelines). Staying active in my local RWA chapters helped make me feel like I was still living a writer’s life, albeit barely. Monthly meetings. Chapter newsletter editor. Chapter contest coordinator. All these things have been like writer life support. I may not be writing on a regular basis, but please don’t pull the plug. As long as I’m not completely disconnected, I have a chance to survive.
I still have an occasional gasp on my own. Like the Christmas poem I recently wrote as an adaptation of Jingle Bells while sitting for hours in gridlocked holiday traffic. And the new story idea that just grabbed hold of my brain like a mutant octopus and refuses to leave me alone in my non-writer’s coma. I’ve read that people in comas can still hear things around them. Well, I’m hearing voices again. They’re in my head, but that’s normal for a writer. Right?
Some people say that writers can’t not write. Some people say you’re not really a writer if you don’t keep writing through whatever life throws at you. I say everyone is different and it’s not fair to pull the plug on them too soon. I may have to take writing breaks to deal with an overly-full plate of life, but I refuse to stop calling myself a writer. I’m lucky to have friends who have faith in me even when my own faith wavers, who keep treating me like a writer even if I’m not actively writing. And I’m really, really lucky I didn’t sign that writer’s DNR.