When I was a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 or so, I spent the night with a friend. I'm not sure how the conversation got started--maybe we were laying awake talking about the act of laying awake--but I told her that before I go to sleep at night, I imagine things. I would imagine I was someone else, a character in a book I'd read or a movie I'd seen, or I was doing something else, or living somewhere else. I remember after seeing "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" I would imagine I was the daughter of Robin Hood and Marian (aka Kevin Costner and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. It was always Kevin Costner and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in my mind). I even had an imaginary friend when I was younger. I can't for the life of me remember his name, but it was a he, and he had a mother.
My real friend thought my nightly imagining was supremely interesting and she was shocked and fascinated that I did this.
I was shocked and fascinated that she didn't.
You see, it never occurred to me that not everyone spent their laying awake time imagining. I mean, what else would you do? Because, to be honest, I still do this, almost every night before going to sleep. It's one of the reasons I write so many blogs late at night or early in the morning--because I've been imagining. Recently I've imagined I had lots of money and decided, to the penny, how I would spend it all. I've imagined remodeling my bathroom, down to the hardware. I've imagined what it would be like to be single and living in New York (I couldn't get over the fact that my husband and kids weren't there and ended up imagining we all lived in New York). I've imagined what it would be like if my family moved to another, bigger, better house (which still involved remodeling. I love remodeling). I've imagined I was an actress making a movie. I've imagined my book was being made into a movie and I was on the set.
I don't know how to explain why I do this. I just always have. I have these ideas, and it's fun to explore them, and the best time is at night in the dark and quiet. Some people daydream, I nightdream, except I do it while I'm awake. And my point in telling you this is that I think I've finally figured out one of the reasons imagining is perfectly normal for me.
See, I'm a writer.
Maybe that wasn't groundbreaking news for you, but it was for me. In fact, one of the most valuable things I've learned this summer while taking my project class (writing the bad guy for my story) is that I am a writer. Yes, I've been writing for a long time. I've had a blog for...good heavens, just over three years. Heck, I participated in (and 'won'!) NaNoWriMo, for crying out loud! I've even self-published that story. You'd think I'd know I was a writer by now. But I've never felt I could call myself a writer, not really. A wannabe writer, maybe. An amateur writer. I could say I like to write, but I could never call myself a writer. But this summer has changed that. As much as I've truly enjoyed and appreciated learning about the tips and tricks of good writers--everything from how to write good description and dialogue and things to look for when writing a second draft to practical advice on getting published--the most important, most revelatory thing I've learned this summer, through encouragement from my teachers and the books I've read about writing, is that I am a writer.
It's one of the most humbling, empowering things I've ever done, to say that. And I have had to say it several dozen times to myself before I've had the guts to say it out loud, as it were.
I am a writer. It fills me up and wears me out and quenches a desire in my soul and makes me ache to do it better. It's an expression of my brain and heart and soul, the very essence of who I am. It's one of the reasons I love, love, love a good story and it's one of the reasons I've read everything I can get my hands on since I was 4. Reading and imagining and writing--it's all part and parcel of who I am.
I am a writer.