It’s my pleasure to welcome my good friend Kelsey Gillespy to the blog today. She’s in the midst of writing a dystopian trilogy, and her short story “Until He Was Gone” was recently published in the anthology Birds of Passage. You can find more of her heartfelt words on kelseygillespy.com.
“What do you do?”
That’s THE question of adulthood. The go-to icebreaker. The one everybody asks.
Most people have a ready response.
“I’m a teacher.”
“I’m a nurse.”
“I’m an [insert job here].”
As though what we do from 9 to 5 defines us. Perhaps that’s why I found it extremely difficult to call myself a writer, especially when I first started my career.
I was a new artist, armed with raw ambition and outlandish dreams. Dreams loitering in the faraway future, just waiting to be realized.
I had no office. No consistent writing regimen. No publications to my name.
Not to mention, as a stay-at-home mom of two little girls, I spent nearly all my waking moments tending to their needs. From sunrise till bedtime, I was Mom. It’s what I did.
How then could I call myself a writer?
More often than not, I felt like an impostor. A wannabe. A peddler.
On those days, I’d smash into an insurmountable mountain of doubt and self-pity.
“I give up,” I’d sigh, throwing my hands up in surrender. “I’m not going to write anymore. I can’t do it.”
My ever-loving, ever-encouraging husband listened intently. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard those words come out of my mouth. Gently, patiently, he’d lift me off the couch and hoist me over that overwhelming wall of defeat.
The next day I’d try to talk myself out of writing. Like I didn’t deserve it. Like my skills just couldn’t do it justice.
But somehow I simply could not NOT write. I was a magnet drawn to the written word. A woman possessed by the pen. Denying myself the opportunity to write was like depriving myself of oxygen. I might get by for a while—a very short while—but eventually, I would suffocate.
It was then I recognized that writing is as much a part of me as motherhood. It’s as vital to me as my white blood cells.
So, for the sake of my own health, I began cramming writing into every spare—albeit random—moment of my life.
I’d stuff writing into every nook and cranny that existed in my own time and space.
Writing blogs. Writing scenes for my dystopian trilogy. Writing poems. Writing grocery lists.
Writing, writing, writing. Heck, I even read about writing.
Case in point, I am writing this from the passenger seat of a rental car as my husband drives us across Colorado. When we get where we’re going, we’ll strap our children to our backs and scale the mountains in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
My life doesn’t have to stop because I have to write.
At first, I worried this approach would tire or burn me out, but the opposite proved to be true.
Those little moments revitalized me and filled my tank. Each one was another opportunity to fuel up.
Those little moments were so refreshingly addicting, I started waking up at 5 o’clock every morning just so I could string a bunch of them together.
The more I committed myself to writing, the more it popped into my head in everyday situations.
The more writing seeped into my brain, the more effective I got as a writer. The more effective I became as a writer, the more comfortable I became identifying myself as one.
And it all happened in the tiniest pockets of my days.
As it turns out, it’s not what we do from 9 to 5 that defines us; rather, it’s what we choose to do in the nooks and crannies of our time that reveals who we really are.
So what do you do?
How do you spend the few moments in your life that you get to dictate? Are you learning, honing, and shaping your craft? Are you consumed with the stories in your soul? Are you putting words on a page?
Are you a writer?