When are you a “real” writer?

Sitting nervously tapping my pencil, I waited for my creative writing teacher, a brazen self-proclaimed failure of a poet embittered by the knowledge he was courted by the university only so that his wife would join their staff, to enter into my classroom and verbally assault the class and myself on our meager failures, I mean attempts, at poetry.

I tried to distract myself by ease dropping on my fellow classmates conversations, but their thoughts were deadly similar to mine. Everyone was horrified by what they turned in, even though they had spent weeks or months agonizing over their work.

Blood on page….

You think yours is bad. I wrote my portfolio in a night.

A night was a stretch. Bereft from my last relationship ending, I had struggled to keep afloat academically that semester, atrophied by the stereotypical first love gone wrong.  I pushed everything else aside, to sit in my sorrow and wait for my love to return.

He didn’t.

With a few hours until class, I started writing my portfolio, knowing that my all-to-honest professor would rip it apart. Bereft of anything to say, I poured my heart out into an emotional jumble and slapped out ten pages of poetry less than an hour. It was muddle, confused and downright crazy, but better than a blank page.

As the minutes piddled away, I reassured my classmate’s that no ones portfolio could be as horrid as mine and that surely I would be the target of his reproach.

“These portfolios were shit,” my teacher said as he entered, casting our work aside on the desk as if it were the plague, “except one….”

“Rachael, please read your first poem.”

A racing of my heart mingled with my brain’s realization that I must have come off as an ass, whining about my pathetic work when he is now sitting there and talks of how for the first time in years, he felt read pure poetry, as I started reading my work.

A month later he helped me publish them.

And I knew this is what I was meant to be.

deying gravity

The problem with writing is that everyone can do it and it’s a job where you can be successful and still not make a living or even much money off of it. It’s easy to get discouraged or feel like, because you aren’t on a best seller list,  you aren’t a “real” writer.

But there are these moments, the twisting of  words into the perfect thought or a life impacted, that makes us as writers realize our talents and the importance of art, that makes it all worth while.

Cherish those moments. Hold tight to them. And never let them go.


19 comments on “When are you a “real” writer?

  1. Ahh!! I’ve asked myself that question many, many times. The question remains unanswered:-) But I’m still writing!

  2. What an inspirational story, Rachel. Wonderful that the teacher was able to see talent in your poetry and help you get published. There are so many special moments along the way to cherish…

  3. I think writing is really the true act of sitting down to write every day. If this is a career path for someone, they would ideally be doing it every day, just like any other job someone might work. It’s really awesome to have those moments, though, when your teachers or mentors really help you or have given you a tremendous compliment on your work. Those moments are great motivators to get through anything, including writer’s block on the toughest days.

  4. A lovely post! I think that’s a fair point. It’s easy to get caught up in credentials and lose the actual craft and magic of it. (Thanks for following my blog, btw.)

  5. Excellent question (and post). I’m still searching for the answer, but in the meantime, I keep writing. Thanks for shaing this story – I wonder what the poem was? 🙂 By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog.

  6. A rather nice post. For me, it’s when you experience having reached into a reader’s mind ever-so-gently with carefully chosen words and influenced its thoughts and perceptions. Thanks for your kind visit and like on my poem. Cheers, S.

  7. Pingback: When are you a “real” writer? | Moscow Free- Lancer

  8. It’s funny how as writers we seem to spend so much time trying to be clever when all we really need is to be fully honest and authentic.

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