This morning, as soon as I wake up, I stumble down the stairs and into the kitchen. The newspaper is sitting on the counter. Michael must have brought it in before he left for his early morning bike ride. But the paper isn’t open. Did he not see my article? Is it not in there?
I open the paper and flip through to find the Perspective section. Darn, didn’t make the front page there.
I open to page two of Perspective, holding my breath just a little, hoping not to be disappointed.
“Woo hoo!” I yell, fist pumping the air. I read the article carefully. Not a word has been changed. “Woo hoo!” I yell again.
My eyes are tearing. I’m so excited, I don’t know what to do with myself. I wish Michael were here. I wish I could call someone, but it’s too early. So I take to Facebook. And I sit down to write this. Because that’s what I do; that’s who I am.
I am a writer.
And as I write that very statement, the tears are flowing. I have to stop and blow my nose.
There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing my name in print for something that I wrote. I started with a blank page on my laptop and, keystroke by keystroke, as words became sentences became paragraphs became an essay, I created something.
I am a writer.
When I sent this recent creation to an editor at the paper, he emailed back, “What a very different, thoughtful piece. I can use it soon.” And he did use it. Today. There’s nothing like that thrill.
I don’t mean “there’s nothing more exciting” or “nothing makes me happier.” There are more important things in life. I haven’t lost that perspective. What I mean is, as a new writer, nothing compares to the thrill of being validated - for my skill, my current occupation (or is it a hobby when you don’t get paid?) and how hard I work.
I haven’t yet called myself a writer. I’ve said things like “I’m a blogger” or “I have a blog and I dabble in writing,” even though today’s was not my first published piece.
My first op-ed was last November. I had no expectations at all that it would be accepted when I sent it in. But then an editor emailed back, “This is a fine piece.” Talk about an ugly cry. It was about four in the morning when I got that email. I was in a particularly bad period of my health struggles; I was in too much pain and discomfort to sleep. So I got up, checked my email and fought back a scream when I saw his reply. I paced the kitchen, sobbing, re-reading those five words, “This is a fine piece.” I had to wait a whole hour for Michael to wake up, and then I couldn’t even get the words out. I had to show him the email on my laptop.
That wasn’t my first appearance in a newspaper. I had two other personal essays published long before the digital age. (You can read them here and here.) Many of my blogs have been accepted in online publications. It’s all been flattering and exciting, but I still didn’t consider myself a writer.
Today was the turning point. For whatever reason, holding that newsprint in my hand, reading the article that I labored to create, seeing my name, today I know
I am a writer.