To write or to have written: that is the question

A very wise former English teach and family friend of mine once asked told a question which one of her professors had placed before many years prior.  The question had helped to form the course of her life; it took her from wanting to be a writer, to wanting to teach middle school English instead. She shared this memory with me knowing that I too had hopes of being a writer. She wished to challenge me in the same way her professor has challenged her.


This professor of hers had claimed at all that all aspiring authors, those with a love of  English and literature, with a desire to create art with words could be broken into two categories: those who write and those who want to have written. In some way, that question also became critical in my own life. At the time, I immediately answered "I want to write." It was one of those "moments" that shapes you and you find out who you are. I was one who wanted to write, for the love of writing. Because I had to write. 

That question lodged itself deep in my mind and I think on it often. Do I want to write- for the love of writing, for the sake of the craft, because I must and have to? Or do I want to have written- be published, be read, be labeled "author," but not necessary enjoy the ride to that point. Do I write because I am a writer or am I a writer because I write. The distinguishing factors between the two may be subtle, but they do make all the difference in definition. 

Most often (and currently), I feel like I fall somewhere in a valley between a writer and a have written. I know I love to write for writing's sake. I've adapted my habits from hand written scrawl to typed text for the sake of modernity, but I know I love to write words. To play with phrases. To paint pictures with a pen. The very craft excites me. But the process of what to do after one has written something does not.

This valley- this rut- has been dug by the fraction of me that is reigned by self-doubt and perfectionism. Fear of judgement. Fear of my words not being liked, not being good enough. The hopes of "have written" frighten me, which causes me to want to write, but only in secret, unread, unseen, unnoticed. Unjudged.

To be a writer, one just has to write. But to be an author, one has to be READ. And to be read is to be judged, either as good or bad or some form of mediocre. Truth be told, that terrifies me. (Now as to why it matters what a publisher or reader may think of me, I have no idea. It shouldn't. But it does. Another problem for another day...)

To be an author, they say, requires thick skin, much like that of a rough and tough rhinoceros. Unfortunately, at this stage I feel more like a new born, fresh to the world, and well-lotioned baby Rhino...who writes. My skin isn't as tough as it needs to be and every opinion cuts deep. So instead of picking up a pen and sending work out into the world to be evaluated and judged by whomever, I plop down on my rhino rump and I hide. Whenever I do write anything, it gets jammed into a filing cabinet and left to collect dust. 

Sure, I can write. I could write thousands upon thousands of words and piles of novels, but if they never leave my hard drive, what exactly is the point? I can claim that it is for my own joy, my own betterment, my own sanity that I write, but something in me knows that that isn't the whole truth. In order to change the world, my words have to leave my house. Art, of any kind, should be enjoyed. Perhaps not everyone will like it, but if it elicits a response, any response at all, it is, by definition art. 

To be an author, I must be read. That is scary. That is thrilling. I want to write to the point of having written. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. It is time to open up the filing cabinet and harass some publishing houses with persistence. It is time to write and write and write until something good happens. It is time to be a big girl rhino with her name on the front of a cover. It is time that I, Isabella Kiss, stop writing in hiding and get myself read. I need to write, so on my last day I can say "I have written." Ready, set, go. 

This entry was posted on Friday, October 16, 2015 and is filed under ,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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