Friends, I have an announcement.
I am giving myself a gift this Christmas.
A big one.
I am opening a gift this Christmas Eve that I should have given myself a long time ago.
I am giving myself the gift of being a writer.
It’s a title I’ve wished for my whole life, and I think I thought that someone else had to give it to me. I have played with calling myself a writer in the last couple of years. But I always say it very tentatively, and sometimes I just skip it.
In October I had a fairly deflating interview via Skype with someone from New York who asked me what I do and I told him I was a travel blogger.
Somehow, I thought that sounded more real than saying I was a writer.
“A what?” he snapped. “Did you say a travel blogger? Is that even like a real job?”
After that experience, I thought, “This is ridiculous. At least, if I say that I am a writer, people know what that is.”
So when someone asks me what I do I’m going to say:
I am a writer.
I am letting go of worrying about the response. Yes, I will bumble through the follow up question of, “Oh, really. What do you write?”
Or maybe I will just say, “1000 words a day.”
Because that, my friends, is a big part of what makes me a writer. It may not make me a successful writer, but if I am writing 1000 words every day, I. Am. A. Writer.
I am super excited to announce my debut project in titling myself “A Writer.”
This project is my Christmas gift to you, my reader.
Beginning on Christmas Eve, I will share 12 Stories in 12 Days.
They are a mix of new stories and old stories I’ve reworked. They are all from my life and I am proud of each of them. I have experimented in each one with something new, and in turn the stories have come to life and taught me more about writing and about myself. Three of them hold a little more of my heart than I have been willing to give to the internet before. One of them fought with me about my tendency to tie a happy bow on the end of everything, and won. Writing them made me heartsick for my friends, for my family and for my children when they were babies.
This Christmas, we are living in a new land. We are far from friends and we do not have a lot to give financially. Giving these stories to you is a way for me to give gifts on a year that I cannot drive around Dogtown delivering cookies and candied nuts or even send Christmas cards.
So, as they say here in the UK,
I have to say that even though I am taking a lot of credit for giving myself this gift of being a writer, I have to give some shout-outs to some factors contributing to make it happen.
Last summer I had a “clever session” with Sarah Von Bargen that made me ask hard questions about myself and my blog. Super helpful!
Doing NaNoWriMo gave me the gift of doing long form writing again every day (instead of just a 500 word blog post). It was frustrating and difficult and wonderful.
And finally, this week I have buried myself in Mike Sowden’s Storytelling Course for Bloggers. It’s a free five day eCourse full of all kinds of discouraging information about the wrong kind of storytelling that is happening all over the internet, which doesn’t seem like it would be that helpful. By Day 3, I wanted to shut my blog down all together. But in the long run, realizing that I am telling “broken stories” motivates me to make them better. The course has enough material in questions/content + links to other sources to keep me busy trying to tell better stories for a very long time.
And like a perfect gift from God, right in the middle of the course there was a link to this gorgeous piece about a winter solstice in Scotland. I’ve been waiting for the solstice like a hawk, counting the days until the sun will start staying out for longer again.
So until next week, here’s my favorite quote from the piece:
I like the sun’s particular gestures, and I like the signs of midwinter life: the wintering geese in empty fields, a lone woman walking along a farm-track in boots and coat, a scarf over her head. By half-past two what daylight had been grudgingly dealt out was being gathered in again.