Writers Anonymous

Hello! I’m Sarah, and I am a writer.

I’m leaving the cozy safety of my own solo Writers Anonymous meeting and going public. In my circles, I’m known as a multitasking housewife, a school PTA volunteer, a nonprofit board member, a church parishioner, and a mom to a seven-year-old, rambunctious boy. So I wear a lot of hats around town, but none of them is a writer’s hat. (What would a writer’s hat look like? I imagine my writer’s hat would be a smart-looking cloche with feathers, like something from the fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher’s wardrobe.)

fisher leopard hat

The thing is, it feels like such an awkward disclosure to call myself a writer. It’s embarrassing, really. Not least of all because I’ve never published anything. For the sake of accuracy, I should say that I’m an aspiring writer. I might even add that I’m in the middle of writing my first novel. But now, that feels even more awkward. After all, it implies a certain self-confidence…dare I say self-delusion? I imagine that many would-be novelists begin with ambition and optimism only to find their efforts ending in crumpled pages and half-finished chapters. And if they do finish a manuscript, what then? Their novel languishes, rejected and unpublished, dust settling over it. Will I be any different? Maybe. Or perhaps I am fooling myself in believing that I can shape my 4 a.m. scribblings into prose that anyone cares enough to read, let alone publish or buy. You can see why I’m reluctant to let too many people know I write. How embarrassing if I start blabbing to everyone that I am a writer — with a novel-in-progress no less — and then I fail miserably!

Nevertheless, I’m writing openly now, risk of humiliation be damned!

I did receive an enthusiastic and supportive response upon confiding that I was writing a novel – thanks, Mom!  But so far, even people not related to me haven’t laughed in my face after hearing the news. Perhaps they were being polite.

Maybe I’m not at all qualified to be a writer. I don’t have a writing degree. Shouldn’t you have a writing degree if you’re going to call yourself a writer? Now my thoughts are wandering and I’m pondering local writing courses. Surely in an academic mecca like this, where my home is equidistant from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, there are writing courses geared towards the housewife with literary ambitions. Perhaps I should look into those before I write another word… Except the reason I am awake and scribbling at 4 a.m. is that my insomnia has struck again. Insomnia is a callous bedfellow. Since I’m unlikely to fall back asleep, I might as well hit the finish line here.

Insomnia is not the only malady that attacks me late at night. Have you heard of Imposter Syndrome? When I first read about Imposter Syndrome, I was amazed to find a name for my worries that I am unqualified, a fraud, and that someday everyone might uncover the secret of my incompetence. Because, of course, everyone else has got their act together except me. I’m just faking it.

But even successful and brilliant people have attacks of Imposter Syndrome! Maya Angelou once said, “I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

Am I qualified to be a writer? Probably not. Unless you count my years of devouring books, forsaking sleep in order to read just one more page, and one more page after that. And I did take a couple of creative writing classes during my early college years. Those credentials will have to be enough for my blog-writing license. (Certainly, they don’t let just anyone write these, right?) Meanwhile, I can let blog posts sate my need to finish and check off something as done while I keep slogging away at my novel.

Fingers crossed that I’ll manage to cobble together a few coherent ideas about writing, my novel in progress, and stories from my life. Thank you for reading — I hope you enjoy my rambling, nocturnal scribbling as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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