I started writing fiction when I was very young. My vision for my future had been to be a professional writer, just like Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary. But then, when I got to high school and had to start thinking about university and my [capital "f"] Future," I was talked out of the lofty goal of becoming a writer by guidance counsellors. I wanted to go into journalism, but was convinced instead to head to a top 5 university for English, with the end goal of becoming a university professor. Let me be clear: this was not my goal, but the goal that my school's guidance counsellor had chosen for me, and I was so young and impressionable, that I believed he knew better than me, so I followed that plan. For one year. After a year as an English Major, I switched to back to my original plan: Communication Studies Major at university followed by a diploma in print journalism at college.
This path has lead me to a steady career as an editor, which is a great way to make money but not a great way to nurture my creative spirit. Over the years, I've dabbled in writing, joining writers groups (that eventually dissolved), but never took the leap to call myself a "writer". I started to think that perhaps that path wasn't for me, after all. Until last year, when I unearthed a short story that I had begun many years ago, and became inspired to start again. I enrolled in a writing course and dedicated myself to writing on a daily basis, creating multiple short stories and now working on a longer piece (that I'm nervous to speak about too much so that I don't jinx it!).
A few months ago, I started identifying myself as a writer, and while I was sheepish the first few times I used it to describe myself to others, I am starting to build a confidence with it. What I've come to realize is that I have ALWAYS been a writer, even during the years when I wasn't writing. I have a love of language, and a passion to share stories that spring into my mind. I have no idea if I'm a good writer, and I have decided that part doesn't matter quite as much as just getting the words onto paper and sharing them with people. The main thing that has been holding me back for all these years was not a lack of inspiration, but a lack of confidence in myself, and a flawed belief that I had an expiry date of when my stories would be relevant, or when I could begin my journey as a writer.
Yesterday, I submitted one of my favourite stories to an international short story contest. Hitting "send" felt like sending my child into the world – both exciting and terrifying for how it will be received. My plan is to find as many legitimate competitions as I can, submit to literary publications, and get my stories out there, for the world to judge the value of my writing.
The most important part, I've realized, is to just write and figure the rest out as it comes.