Identity Crisis

Hi! I’m a writer.

I can’t sufficiently express how difficult it was for me to admit that. For some reason, I didn’t want to call myself a writer or an author even after I finished my first novel. It felt kind of arrogant to use these words in connection with myself, especially because I haven’t published anything. But one of the things my writer community told me over and over again was to use these words. At the 2014 Midwest Writers Workshop at Ball State University, even well-published authors told us to claim the words. After all, we were attending a writers workshop. We must be writers, right? If we haven’t written a word yet, we’re going to, right?

There are stories in my head that I need to tell. My call to write (and that’s really the only way I can describe it) was unexpected, even unwanted. It was downright scary! It happened in early January 2014. I felt this crazy, ridiculous, impossible-to-disregard need to write. It wasn’t simply an idea in my head. It was a physiological need. I would write, or I would explode. There were no other options. I had to talk to my wife about it. So I did. We sat down on our bed and talked But my body shook the whole time. I was that nervous! Seriously, me write? I didn’t believe I could really do it. But neither could I deny this sudden need to write.

So I got started. After a few disheartening Start, Trip, Land-flat-on-my-face scenarios, I was ready to quit. But I knew I needed to write. So I started again at the beginning of March, and had my rough draft done by mid-May. Then I started on the second book in the series, and had the rough draft done by mid-September. (I’m an ordained pastor, so I had a busy summer of conferences, a youth mission trip, and youth summer camp). I started my third book in the series in November 2014, but set it aside to edit my first two books after punching out about 60k words. I’ve spent a lot of time editing and revising my two drafts. I just finished draft 6.0 on my first novel, The Lesser Betrayal, and draft 5.0 of my second novel, The Betrayal of Hoqra. Note that draft 6.0 came after the rough, then 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, etc. So it’s been a lot of work, but worth every second of it.

By the way, my wife, Joy, is incredibly awesome. She encouraged me the whole way. I would never have had the courage to write without her. And yeah, it actually took courage to put these weird ideas in my head into a readable format for another person to see. When I allowed Joy to read the few chapters I had written, it felt like I was baring my naked soul. But I got over it quickly. After all, I like being naked in front of my wife. But seriously, once I felt comfortable sharing my writing with Joy, I started to have enough courage to share it with other people. It was a process, but a necessary part of my writing journey. Now I’ll share my writing with any of my family, friends, or acquaintances who want to read it.

Word about my writing started to get around. Soon, people were requesting copies of my work. That was a surprise. I couldn’t believe people actually wanted to read something I wrote. When some of the girls in my youth group heard that I was writing a young-adult fantasy novel, they asked for copies. So I gave them the chapters I had finished. Every Sunday morning afterward, they would run up to me saying, “Milly, do you have the next chapter done yet? Please tell me you wrote more! I need to know what happens next!” (Yes, the high school and middle school girls call me Milly. They say I’m “just one of the girls” so I clearly need a female name).

So yeah. I’m a writer. I’ve written two books so far (I’m working on #3 and have notes on #4, #5, #6, #7, & #8). But even though I’m not yet published I can call myself an author. And you know what? It feels great to say that. Writing brings me and my readers joy. This is my creative outlet. Now that I know what I am, now that I accept the fact that I’m a writer, I feel full. My identity crisis is over.

When I share my writing I no longer feel like a frightened, naked soul. Now, I feel confident in who I am.

I feel free.