A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

I Am a Writer

“I think I’ll just work on my book.”

That was my 8-year-old daughter’s response when I asked her what she was going to take to occupy herself while we were at the church office this afternoon. Her answer surprised me, but just a little. She’s always been my little reader/artist/writer.

“What’s the name of your book?”

Junie B. Jones Goes to Alaska. I’ve been working on it, but I’m not finished yet. It’s taking a long time. I’m gonna have to re-do it, too. This is my sloppy copy. It has lots of scratches in it. I’ll have to write it all over once I’m done.”

We talked a little longer about her writing project. Her plan is for her book to be ten chapters long. Each chapter will be seven pages. It’s okay if it’s full of mistakes right now. She will fix those later.

I was amazed at the grasp my young daughter instinctively has on the writing process. She isn’t at all timid about it. It doesn’t bother her that it will take her a long time. It doesn’t bother her that this first copy is a sloppy copy with lots of scratches in it. It doesn’t bother her that she will have to rewrite it. She isn’t concerned whether the topic of Junie B. Jones has been overdone, or whether Barbara Park (author of the real Junie B. Jones series) will write about Alaska before she does. I think my daughter is what they call “a writer.” I’m impressed.

I’ve been a closet writer for years. I’ve never pretended that I was good enough or interesting enough to share it. Anytime I’ve been “caught” writing and asked what I’m working on, I’d respond, “Oh nothing. Just drivel for my blog. Nobody reads it anyway.”

I’ve been shyly coming out of the closet as a writer, a little at a time, for about a year now. Baby step: a two day writing workshop. Baby step: a summer writing intensive. Baby step: joining a writer’s group. Baby step: sharing my blog with a new friend who happens to be an awesome writer. Baby step: creating a “blogok” group on Facebook – people I was comfortable sharing blog links with. Baby step: giving the link to my blog to my parents.

Cathy (Cathy’s Voice Now), my amazing writer friend, has been gently (mostly) nudging me to open up more. “When you’re ready,” she says, “I’ll share your links in some of my circles.” She has A LOT of circles. “I’m almost there,” I keep telling her. Almost.

I just completed the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon. The challenge was to post on your blog something every day in May. I did it. Traffic to my blog increased significantly (for me). I got in the habit of thinking more like a writer. When May was over, I got positively twitchy. What’s next?

Then I ran across Jeff Goins’ 15 Day Writing Challenge. I recently read Jeff’s newest book, You Are a Writer and loved it. So sure – why not? I joined the cozy little group of 835 other writers for the challenge.

Day One’s Challenge? The Declaration Every Writer Makes:

The challenge

So here’s what I want you to do today: Declare you’re a writer.

Not just to your wall or computer or notebook, but to an actual person or institution. Someone or something you’re scared of — this could be a person who might reject or judge you, a family member who may misunderstand you, or a publisher who could discredit you. But tell them and tell them now.

Do it with pride and boldness. Write about it, tweet it about, record a video if you want. The more outrageous it is, the more likely you are to believe. This is what we’re trying to do here: convince ourselves that we have the right to pick up the pen.

Uh oh.

Well . . . here it goes, folks:

I am a writer. Really. I write all the time and love it. I’m not a published author, although I would love to be one day. I haven’t told you before because of fear – that I’ll be judged, that you’ll see the real me and not like me, that I’m not good enough, that I have nothing to say. But hey – who cares? The word is out now, so the best I can do is my best and hope that somewhere along the line what I have to say will touch someone else who feels the same way about life.

i am a writer

There. I said it. And I’m about to say it again on Twitter. And the real biggie is that I’m about to say it on Facebook, too, and not just to my “blogok” list. Wish me luck. And courage – lots of courage.



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27 thoughts on “I Am a Writer

  1. Reblogged this on Cathy's Voice Now and commented:
    I would like to introduce my friends,family, and fellow bloggers to a great blog written by my very good friend Jan Roberts Culpepper. She has been a closet writer for some time now but is ready to share her thoughtful, inspiring, and mostly honest writing with others. Please check out her blog and give her some encouragement!!!Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  2. eil1een on said:

    Very nice! You are a writer!

  3. I’m so glad you declared yourself, and because of that I was able to “meet” you here! I loved this blog post – your daughter reminds me a great deal of myself. I’ve been a writer since I was about her age (and that was a very long time ago!) I haven’t always been vocal about it, but I am now. When we tell our stories on paper we are writers – even if no on reads them.

    Keep writing – you have a marvelous writer’s voice!

  4. Susan on said:

    Awesome, Jan. You FINALLY said it. I have known you to be a writer for a very long time. So glad to see Mia is boldly declaring herself and inspiring you too.

    • I remember the first time I sat the the floor of Lora’s apartment and read something I had written out loud for the first time (other than a sermon). It was quite the experience!

  5. LOVE your daughter’s attitude and confidence. I may print out her words and put them over my desk. Thanks!


  7. I am participating in the 28 Day Author Blog Challenge and was only a little surprised to find out how many writers (and yes, I am one of them) started at ages 7 or 8 or 9. I do wish you luck. And your daughter too!

    • Now that’s a challenge I haven’t heard of. Sounds interesting! I dreamed of being a writer at a young age myself. My best friend and I even wrote a story about a bunny together. Then somewhere along the way I lost my confidence, and maybe even my voice for awhile. It’s great to be back!

  8. Of course you are! Good for you.

  9. Jen Jen on said:

    I can relate. I usually write all of my thoughts and feelings on a particular, subject, event or passing thought and then burn them to release them. I never really thought about posting them for all to see but i do not have fear of others judging me. At the end of every day i am with my mind, my thoughts and decisions. And i sleep well at night. GOOD LUCK !!

    • There is great healing power in writing certain kinds of things and then burning them as a way of letting go. I’ve done that myself a few times. Powerful.

  10. “I am a writer.” Yes, you are!

    This past weekend, another writer shared with me a piece of wisdom that I think you’ll love: If you feel guilty when you’re not writing, you are a writer (published or not).

  11. You go, writer!

  12. Jan, the writer. My cousin. 🙂 Inside joke, people. I declared myself a writer in 2008. Never mind I have a journalism degree and have been writing in some capacity my entire career. Wonder why it’s so hard for some writers to declare themselves writers? I’m inspired by your daughter’s plan of action. Sloppy copy. Love it.

    • I can’t wait to read your memoir! It will be out there one day, I just know it!

      I was so impressed by Mia’s confidence that I asked her if she would help me be a writer. I think I have the tools I need now!

  13. You are a kindred spirit! I struggle with these same things all the time. I’m glad you claimed the title of writer. I’m trying to convince myself that the fact that I have written nearly every day for many years now makes me a writer. I still fear it doesn’t.

    • Oh, Amanda. Yes – a kindred spirit! I think the greatest reward I’ve gotten from writing so far is the assurance that I am not alone – in anything! It makes all the difference in the world! Hey – you’re a writer! Claim it! It feels pretty good!

  14. Pingback: I’m a Night Owl « simplyjan

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