I have some ideas, some thoughts I’d like to share, some stories I’d like to tell. I have some inklings and some convictions, some anecdotes and some parables, some bluntly factual reports and some metaphorical fictions.
They’re in me. I feel them brewing.
Ever since I was five or six I’ve wanted to be a writer. I still have stories from those days, mostly about cats and unicorns, with an overabundance of commas and adverbs. I’ve kept up my writing in various ways over the last thirty five years, through journaling, writing poems and short stories, several brief attempts to formulate novels and, most recently, blogging. I sent stories to literary journals in my late twenties, had a writing partner for a while in my early thirties. Yet I remember thinking, as early as college, that as much as I wanted to write, I didn’t have my stories yet — my life experience to draw on. I kept writing anyway. But I had this strong feeling that it wasn’t until I was forty that I was going to be able to write anything real. That feeling has stayed with me.
Three weeks ago I turned forty. And I feel it. It’s time.
For a while now I’ve been thinking about what Anne Lamott said in Bird by Bird:
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
There are other people in my stories. Some haven’t behaved that well, and their bad behavior is part of my story. But, still, this doesn’t feel quite right to me. *I* haven’t behaved well in other people’s stories. And other people have blogs (and theoretical book deals) too. So I’ve been worried, not wanting to be unjust or to write to validate myself at another’s expense.
But then Glennon Melton posted this the other day:
When internet writers ask me for advice- one of the first things I tell them is: ”If you can avoid defending yourself for being human, you might have enough energy to keep writing. Don’t defend yourself, and don’t get your needs confused. You don’t need to be right- you just need to write.
So, I am going to write, knowing that I may not be right about everything, but knowing, too, that I have to write. “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer,” said Maya Angelou. “It sings because it has a song.”
I have a chronicle, a myth, a fable; I have a memoir and an apologue. I have a saga, a romance, a spiel; I have a scoop and a cliffhanger. I have a song.