How to Know if You Are a Writer (or Artist, or Singer-Songwriter, or Kazoo-Player)

So . . . at age 87, my grandfather typed up his life story (on 5″ X 7″ pages in a thick 3-ring binder). He was born in 1885 and lived a life of adventure, travel, and 3 marriages (1 of his wives he married twice), and then finally, after all that, he met and married my grandmother and at age 52 surprised them both by having his first child, and then he lived another 45 years, so he had a lot to say. I have always been very grateful for his story written (and for the letters he kept, and for the ancestor research he did, and, oh yeah, for also having a second child at age 55—my mother :-)).

I’ve always tried to get my mother to write—for years! I tell her, “You’ve lived in so many different countries, have had so many experiences, and you have stories! Don’t you want to write them? She shrugs and changes the subject, but I persist, “You might be able to help people or inspire them! Really. What if you just started writing? It doesn’t have to be a book, just something. How about an essay? A letter? Even a few notes! You’ve got the time . . . ”

I finally deeply listened (in way I couldn’t have before beginning this blog project).

Last night, I went zipping right down this road again, but this time more directly. About something she shared, I just asked her, “Don’t you want to write that!?” and then I paused, exhaled, and deeply listened.

No. No, she really doesn’t. My mother has no interest in writing her stories, in sharing her perspective, in bringing her lived experience to the page, breathing her inspirations into art. No interest at all.

For the first time, I truly heard her. She really does not want to write! For years, I’ve been sort of wondering why she’s not writing, waiting for her to start, assuming she would.

I’m always curiously surprised at each week/month/year goes by that she does not.

💡OH!!!!! (Fresh insight just in!)

I am the writer who has not been writing! I am the writer who has been waiting to start. I am the writer who kept a childhood diary (never missing a day!) from age 10 to age 25, who loved every creative writing class ever taken, whose every hero is also a writer, and who has filled entire hard drives with journals (thousands and thousands of pages, millions of words, all password encrypted and squirreled away as thought on some kind of ongoing alphabet retreat)!

I am the writer looking out of the mirror asking the world (and apparently my own mother), “Why are you not writing? Don’t you want to share that! You’ve lived so many interesting places, you have so many stories, you have perspectives that could help or inspire! Why are you not writing?”

Um, yeah, wow. Ok then.

So, for all of you reading this (thank you!), I have a few questions!

How to know if you are a writer (or artist, or singer-songwriter, or kazoo-player)

. . . Notice if you spend ANY emotional/mental/creative energy wondering why others in your life are not creating and self-expressing. Do you?

. . . Notice who else you nudge, encourage, cajole into creating more words/art/music/etc. Who?

. . . Ask yourself how much emotional/mental energy you put into supporting other writers/artists/musicians/etc. (and is there any secret jealousy there)?

. . . Do you possibly pour any of your creative  energy into imagining for a close friend or relative a creative life (“But a life is not fully lived if you aren’t creating!”) that, is in fact, not their dream life at all? (cough, cough).

Diving in (to your own life)

. . . What would happen if you stopped spilling little cups of tea everywhere and instead dove right into the deep waters of your own creative life?

. . . What would happen if you stopped everything (!) and right now went and picked up that pen (or paintbrush or kazoo)?

Yes, go do this! :)



PHOTO CREDIT: Soroush Karimi on Unsplash