For me, it happened early. Once I started reading, my imagination wanted to create its own stories and I found these stories took me beyond the small town where I grew up and allowed me think what could be possible.
I had a magical playground with a beach that appeared and disappeared on command, unsolvable mysteries that only my heroine could crack, then the next day travel to distant galaxies. I was never without a journal, paper or pencils. I collected bookmarks. I took my stories and bound them between cut out cardboard and illustrated the covers.
Once you become a writer you’re changed forever. It’s a mindset really, you’re going along and BAM, there’s two ancient ladies walking along a busy stretch of road, arm in arm and your mind has to give them a story. You crave learning because you can use the experience and knowledge for your characters. You get 2 hours alone and instead of taking a nap, you write blog posts about writing.
A few years ago, I picked up a cute book titled You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara. Inside are truisms for the writer’s life and it lets me know I’m not alone. That’s the thing with writing; for the most part it is not a group activity. You’re all by yourself with only your characters to talk to.
I know I’m a writer when I’m writing, but also when I quiz people on their life stories or jot notes about strangers and what they’re wearing. Some time back, while driving from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC I noticed a man jogging the paved paths in a cemetery. That was too good not to work into a story.
Here are a few ways I can finish the sentence:
You know you’re a writer when….
• You stalk people in public and use them for character descriptions.
• You rewrite EVERYTHING you read including the cereal box.
• Your genealogy research turns into a plot line.
• You read Beowulf for real (unlike high school) and discover the movie Alien was a complete rip-off.
• You have sentimental attachment to old pencils.
How do you know you’re a writer? Just know that you’re not alone, there are a lot of us out here talking to ourselves and making up words.
You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara | 2007 Chronicle Books, San Francisco, USA
Recommended reading for writers feeling lonely; especially pages 16, 54, #4 on p 21, oh heck, just read the whole thing, it’s really entertaining.