Monday, November 21, 2011

When You Knew

Lots of writers have always wanted to be - or indeed, always have been - writers. In some way or another. They'll talk about how they were born with a Marble notebook and ballpoint pen in hand (which, God bless your mother!) or how they sat daydreaming story ideas in sixth grade or accidentally entered a context when they were 9 and it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

I'd always written. I was one of those babies who needed to be delivered via C-section because Five-star binders full of wee toddler stories just weren't designed to pass through certain places, know what I'm saying?

In first and second grade, in my first school back when I still lived in NYC, every year each kid would get a hardcover, totally blank white book. About A4 paper-size, maybe 20-30 pages on the inside. We got to write and draw our own stories as an assignment. I imagine you would respect me a lot less if I told you it was about a distinctly self-insert character who lost his pet hedgehog just before the school show-and-tell fair. But I just accidentally told you anyway, so there's that.

I'd always written. But I never thought of myself as a writer, even though I wrote constantly and weaved stories out of every single thing and took Creative Writing classes in middle school and read like books were oxygen and I was gasping for air. It didn't occur to me that this was A Thing I Could Do, Like For Reals until maybe halfway through high school.

But I should have.

A year or so ago, I was going through a collection of my things that had been boxed up and put in storage when I moved away to college. I'd been far from this storage space ever since and hadn't gone through my belongings there in five years or so. Going through my collections, I found that first hedgehog story from when I was but a wee young lad.

But it wasn't the sad saga of Ricky the Missing Hedgehog that made me realize I was destined to lead the life of a writer whether I liked it or not. It was the inscription I'd written on the inside of the front cover, that read something along the lines of:

(C) 1994 RICHARD LIPMAN. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should know it is stolen property and the author received no payment.

I cracked up when I discovered the wily ways of my 7 year-old self, and immediately showed my mother. We decided I was stuck on the writer's path, pretty much, come hell or high water.

So. When did you know - know for sure - that you were a writer? Share your stories in the comments!


  1. I like the idea of emerging from the womb with pen and notebook in hand. My mom has always said that I (as a 10 pound baby) came out looking like I could sit in the corner and read for hours (which I think I did do, actually).

    I was sure I was a writer when I was a kid. Then, in typical stupid-adult fashion, I became less and less and less sure--of myself, of my writing, blah blah blah.

    But now I'm back on the "I'm a writer" wagon. Because while I believe it's true that you have to write to be a writer, I also believe it's true that you have to believe you are a writer in order to dedicate your time and effort to writing.

    Nice post!

  2. lol, that's so cute! I can't help it, the mommy in me is picturing one of my kids doing something like that and it makes me so proud. I wrote when I was young, and even attempted during college, but never felt good enough. It wasn't until I had my younger son that I tried again, and I've been going ever since. I guess I knew I was a writer when I started to revise my current manuscript instead of just shoving it away into a dark corner.

  3. I think it was around college when I realized I was a writer. How did I know? When the thought of not writing was the equivalent of not breathing.

  4. Alexa: Isn't that always how it works?! I know many - like myself - who lost sight of the dream for a bit as we got older. Fortunately, most of us get over that and return to childhood promptly!

    Prerna: That's awesome that you finally embraced it - and yes, revising is sort of the threshold, isn't it? Once you cross it, there's no going back.

    Denny: Amen. It's like air. I don't understand people who say, "Man, I wish I had time to write." If you needed it badly enough, you'd do it.