I am a writer. I am uncomfortable with those words. I have a history with those words.
When I was seven, I would sit next to the sliding glass door in our living room, writing in a tiny spiral notebook. No one knew what I was doing. It was my secret.
My mom had published poetry when she was a young girl, and I wanted to impress her. I wanted to be a writer, like her.
One evening, I tried to think “deep” thoughts and write something meaningful.
It was something about roses are red. I gave it to my mom.
She showered me with praise. She was pleased. But I knew, she was being my mom and loving anything I did.
I remember thinking, you’re not a writer. That’s something that only talented people do. And I stopped writing.
I wrote for school assignments, but nothing else. I wasn’t a writer.
I had my share of teachers who wrote corrections on my papers. Things I didn’t understand. Which further convinced me of the fact that I wasn’t a writer.
I read a lot and connected deeply to words. Words mattered to me. But only to read. That was what I could do. Writing was only for the gifted. I had no hesitation saying, I am a reader. But, I wasn’t a writer.
It has taken many years and a career in teaching to get me to consider writing. My desire to teach pushed me to try writing again. To do what I ask my students to do, just write.
I don’t believe my mother or teachers stopped me from writing. I believe my self-deprecating nature and the lack of active support stopped me.
Teachers need be facilitators of and cheerleaders for writing. We need to let students know that there is a place for them, and they are expected to be there. We need to convince our students that writing is as necessary as breathing. That we write because we are here. We need to write to make our thoughts, and ourselves known.
Writing needs to become an equal opportunity activity, just like reading. That like reading, it’s should be an expectation that all students will say, without hesitation: I am a writer.
“Just write,” did not just happen. Blogging and the community of Two Writing Teachers has helped me be brave by welcoming my words. This community has made me feel worthy as a writer. It helped me change my opinion of myself and be able to write those four words. I am a writer.