About six years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son and becoming increasingly aware of how drastically my life was soon going to change, a friend of mine gifted me a book for my birthday. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg isn’t exactly the sexiest book, but it’s one many of my fellow writers revere. On the inside cover is an inscription.
To a writer: keep writing.
I remember the first time I read those scribbled words; a flash of fire burned through my core. It was the first time I’d ever been called a writer, despite that, at the time, nothing I’d written had ever been published anywhere outside of WordPress, and certainly hadn’t garnered me any monetary compensation.
The gesture was deeply appreciated, and flattering, but when I returned home that night, I didn’t eagerly crack open the book, ready to learn all the things I needed to know in order to hone my craft. Rather, I stuffed it onto my bookshelf, resolving to read it once I was actually, truly, 100%, legitimately, a writer, as opposed to a “writer.” (If only you could see the grandeur with which I am fashioning air quotes right now.)
Over the past few weeks of my life, there has been a sacred, and very loud, echo of sorts; the idea of building “monuments” to remember times in life when God has been faithful, just like many did in the Bible, has been tossed around in several of the circles in which I frequently run. And this blog — this dusty, yet faithfully domain-renewed-each-year-blog — is my own collection of monuments: to my marriage, to my kids, to my career, even (because, if you don’t remember, I started this blog back when I worked in broadcast news and desperately needed an outlet), and I’m so grateful it exists for that purpose.
It has been nearly a decade since I claimed this silly domain name, and so much has changed in that time. Case in point: I haven’t had Diet Coke in almost six years, because I discovered much to my dismay that aspartame gives me migraines and may or may not be why I eventually die of cancer, and while I used to be a compulsory blogger I am now an occasional one, saving the most interesting pieces (LOL) for when I have the energy.
The last time I was visiting my mom in the house I grew up in, I found another monument: the first book I ever wrote.
It was short, and not exactly all that entertaining, but it had a followable plot and pretty decent illustrations (in crayon, of course). It was called The Laughing Cat, and I wrote it in Kindergarten. I based it off of my actual, IRL cat Stormy, and the pranks I imagined she’d pull if she was more human-like. Maybe more like her owner.
That, along with this blog, and certainly that check I just deposited for the blog I get paid to write for, all fly in the face of that ridiculous notion I asserted all those years ago. I am, and have always been, a writer. I write. It’s what I do, it’s what I’m made for, and it’s what I love.
So I guess it’s time to finally read that damn book.
4 thoughts on “on building and writing monuments.”
I feel uncomfortable calling myself a writer, too! When I went to a blogging conference with Abbey last fall I felt almost sidle-y. Skittery. The worst kind of poser. When that ambition and ache is so ancient and central in your life, it’s scary to own it!
YES. knew you would understand!
I’m so proud of my daughter, THE WRITER!
I just logged on, for the first time in forever and this is the first thing I see! I needed to see it honestly!! In life’s chaos of kids and trying to manage an illness that keeps knocking me down, I’m struggling! Struggling with the wild idea I had to actually enroll in college to be a writer over a year ago. Sure, I love writing, I have stories to tell, connecting with people whose stories I want to write about, but seeing myself as a writer, like, ever? My poor advisor has listened to me crying, snot and all about feeling like a failure, a mistake to take on school and not being sure it’ll be anything more than a hobby. The intimidation of a class full of writers with books ready to publish, it’s REAL!! Terrified to think of myself in terms of being worthy or good enough to be…a WRITER!!