Do you remember the day you became a writer? No? Good answer!
Then you have, as I have, realized that perhaps you were born to writing, and you’ve been involved in that creative field since you became you. But maybe, as you tried other creative fields, such as music, art, or drama, writing lay dormant underneath, somehow adapting to fit those creative fields and waiting to come to full bloom.
The first time I cast the others aside and embraced writing was at eight years old. At first we creative types tend to emulate the writing of others. I wrote (actually I dictated it to Mom, who wrote it down in her precise handwriting, correcting my grammar as she went) a story I called “Peter and the Golden Cave.” It was a blatant imitation of an Arabian folk tale most American kids have read, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” But my imitative bent was all right; it was part of a process only hen just beginning.
And then there was the necessary development of imagination. After all, how can you devise a story without being hard-wired with things imaginative? As in:
“Look, Ma, that tree looks like a pickup truck.”
And her blasé reaction to my ongoing litany: “That’s fine, Bobby.”
“Why are you looking at your dinner plate, son?”
“I was mopping up gravy with my bread, Daddy, and look, there’s a five in it.”
He looked, and sure enough, I’d accidentally formed a perfect “5” on my plate.
These things together – imitation and imagination (like hydrogen and oxygen; when subjected to a spark they form water) when subjected to the innate spark of the will to express, form story. Or poem. Or song. You get the picture.
Then with these things boiling within, you decide, “I want to write stories. Real, quality stories.” And this is where your true apprenticeship begins: Some say it takes a decade of serious writing, workshopping, editing, to learn the craft and become competitive with other, established writers. I would say that a decade is fast-track. Make it fifteen or twenty in many cases.
So you see that at each step within you, from imitation to imagination to the long years of learning the craft as you write, you are a writer. No, that’s not right; at each of these steps you’re becoming a writer, for there’s never been a complete writer nor a perfect piece of writing. It’s a process that you commit to over a lifetime. So there’s never a time when you aren’t a writer. And there’s never a time when you aren’t reaching out to make your craft -and you – fulfilled as a writer.