In the back of my mind, for a long time, quietly, a question has lived: Why, for all those years, didn’t you write more?
When I was in Grade 11 I entered one of my short stories in a contest and won a prize. I barely remember the story or what it was about, and I don’t remember the process of writing it. It was very much modeled after a favorite writer of mine; in fact, I’m not sure the voice was really mine at all.
I’ve never had much of a desire to write fiction and I certainly don’t now. I don’t have stories and characters and settings in my head. And, after all, isn’t that what writers do? Weave themselves and their experiences and the things they ponder into stories about other people?
Of course not. Not only that. That’s just one kind of writing.
I know that now, and these days I write a lot. At least in my head, which still counts. Not many of them make it down on paper, but I process my world through words.
I spent years not writing because I thought I didn’t have anything to write about. I guess I just had to find my own story. So that’s what I write now. I process things and it helps me and maybe even helps other people a little bit.
And yet at times it feels self-indulgent to write my own story. Self-important. Narcissistic, even. Especially because my story, as I am telling it, isn’t one event. It’s not one bad day or one diagnosis or one revelation.
But then again, no one’s is.
Writers write because they have something to say. And the lesson I’m learning now—for me—is that I can write, and I want to write, and it doesn’t actually matter if anyone reads it.
I will just wait for those times I have something to say, and be grateful for a place to say it.