I didn’t sleep the night before the first time I had a story critiqued in a creative writing workshop. I could not turn my brain off. All night, the same three questions ran through my head. What if they don’t like it? What if they think it’s stupid? What if they think I’m a terrible writer? I was in such a nervous state that around 6.30 am, when light began to creep into my room, I resolved that I wasn’t going to class that day and instead, I would be dropping the class. An hour later, I realised I was being completely ridiculous. How would I ever know the answers to the questions if I didn’t go to class?
So I went, dragging my feet, feeling like someone was wringing my intestines. I sat in my usual corner, barely listening as we workshopped the first two stories. Then my turn came. I stared intently at the desk. I didn’t want to look anyone in the eye as they shredded my story to bits. I was so scared that no one would understand my story or that they would all just think it was a horrible story, but guess what? They actually liked it!
I tell you, it’s an intoxicating feeling knowing that someone was entertained, someone laughed, or someone cried because of something you wrote. There is no feeling more gratifying than knowing that your words moved someone.
The thing about applying to graduate school is the process warps your vision. It’s a long process and somewhere in there, you forget why you’re going through this all and focus only on getting in. You forget that you’re the one who writes and hand over the authority to someone else to tell you that you’re a writer.
Today, I’m remembering the words I wrote to myself when I got back from that first workshop.
“I don’t know why other people write, but for me having someone come up to me and tell me that they loved it, or that it reminded them of something that had happened in their lives, that is amazing… I think somewhere this semester I finally made the decision to be a writer. I have always said I want to be a writer, but now I am a writer, putting in the hard work required for success, trying new things and actually letting people read my work. Being a published author is my goal and I’m feel like I’m finally on the right path:-)“
Today, I’m reminding myself that I’m the one who decides that I’m a writer. I’m the one who decides the next step.