I believe writing is about conversation, and I hope this blog is always part of a much larger conversation. So when Erin Block said she read my post “The Definition of a Writer” and it spurred her to write the post below, I was both humbled and thrilled. Ah yes, I thought, this is conversation.

People, friends, family, folks I’ve never met, have all been calling me a “writer” as of late. Usually, we identify ourselves by our job, our career, what we do to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. You know, the practical things in life. But I’ve always hated being defined by the practical – that’s why I went to conservatory…to music school. For heaven’s sake, there isn’t one ounce of practicality in that.

But people have started identifying me by what I am, not what I do. And this is a welcome relief. You see, I really don’t like what I do. Who does? I’m told. But yet I hold out the hope that I will, one day. I’m hungry, and I have to believe that there’s something out there for me. I’ll chase it down. Or maybe, it’s growing presently, underfoot. Maybe, I just need to move my left…or, my right. Or…oh I don’t know. But, I have to believe it’s true, just to keep sane.

So — I’m a writer, they say. It’s what I am. And now, I believe them. In fact, now I realize that I’ve been one even before I started writing. It’s very much like when in adolescence I grew breasts and realized that yes, I had been a woman all along. Damn.

I have a much similar reaction to the having been a writer, all along.

There is a narrator in my head, and she told me this is true. She has been with me for over 27 years now. She’s me. Sometimes, speaking in baritone. Sometimes, growling and hissing and howling like a wild animal; sometimes, she makes put-put-put tractor noises like a little boy. And sometimes, dressed for a ball, she sings in a sweet soprano.

I’ve spent a lot of time alone — in childhood, and now as an adult. And this narration has been, and is, my way of “talking,” I suppose. We humans have an instinctive urge to share experiences, thoughts, and stories – and this is often where, and how, we get hurt. Self sabotage. Opening up before we truly know what’s out the door, waiting. We are herd animals though, and so we have to take the chance….always, take the chance.

But then, there are the loners, the ones who leave the pack, the ones who purposely separate themselves. These are the artists, the musicians, and the storytellers – they also often happen to be the depressed, haunted, and afflicted. Once removed, they observe — exploring the tribe’s condition from outside – and while it may look like this is really a reclusion, really, it’s quite the opposite. You can’t see the picture, sing the song, or read the novel when you’re in it. And so, there are the artists, musicians, and writers…the storytellers.

And I, am one of them.

Now, I see that I have been on the outside, telling myself stories my whole life…that narrator describing everything I do, taste, smell and see…back to myself. I thought this was normal. I thought everyone told themselves stories. But as it turns out, they don’t. Instead, they listen. They listen for someone to find their experiences words – they wait to be given their own stories back.
This is a great expectation. A glorious weight. And yes, one that depresses, haunts, and afflicts.

But so it goes…I am a writer.

Erin blogs at Mysteries Internal, where she ponders fly fishing, life in the mountains, and all that is beauty in the world.