I used to think of myself as a writer. I was on the school newspaper, I journaled, I enjoyed a lot of the writing assignments in high school (and I had a full load of them, too, being in IB). I thought I wanted to be a journalist, and my dream job was being a travel writer. I went to school to study journalism, and I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in the stuff. See? Writer.
But I'm not a writer. I don't write for a living full-time, though I do write stuff. Sometimes a lot of stuff. Sometimes I even get paid for it. There are books about writing all over my house. I have full journals in the garage. There's a half-full journal sitting next to me, ready to be put away for tomorrow's entry. I could tell you all about the benefits of writing, the importance of setting aside time every single day to write, the value of exercises like journaling and NaNoWriMo. I could point you to my favorite resources for the craft, tell you about what I find most inspiring. All of these things are evidence of me 'being' a writer. But I'm not one.
Writing - and more generally, words - could easily be called my biggest, or greatest, interest. My physical life is scattered with books, pens, notebooks, papers, grammar books and dictionaries, computers, even a typewriter. All tools of the trade. All evidencing care and, perhaps more importantly, use. But I know I'm not a writer.
I'm not a writer because there are times - perhaps the most important times - that I can't write. I just can't bear it. When I am in my deepest internal struggles, dealing with the most difficult pain, processing a great challenge or problem, I don't write. I can't. My most important things never meet paper. They are never read. No record exists of my greatest joys, nor my agonies. When I have something, something really big and important and even necessary, I don't write about it.
To me, a writer is someone who lives by the pen. Someone who can't fathom being anything but a writer. Someone who is always writing. A writer doesn't leave the important things unwritten.
Why are my most important things unwritten? I don't know. But if I were a real writer, those things would be on paper. This is perhaps the thing I most regret about my life: I don't record what is really important.
The deepest, most essential facets of my life go unrecorded. I let them. And I suffer as a result.
What was I thinking, the night before my wedding? And what were the biggest fears the night I thought my marriage might be ending? Could what got me through the last wave of doubts help me get through my current spiritual crisis? What did it feel like the day I brought my puppy home? How have I changed, and what priorities have shifted? I don't know. I don't remember any of these things in specific detail. I wish I had recorded my thoughts then, so that I could see them now.
I wish I could say that things are different, that I've become better at recording the greater things. But I'm not. I make an effort here and there, but not a consistent one. The regret grows deeper, but the block is still there. Something prevents me from living, fully, on the pages of my journal. Fear of being read? Fear of real insight? Fear of uncovering something that is best left unacknowledged?
Or am I so easily distracted by deep emotion that I simply can't be bothered to scratch out what's going on?
One thing is for sure. A writer would write. No matter what. So I am not a writer. That's ok with me. But what's not ok is letting the big things in my life pass by, unrecorded.
In this sense, I must become a writer. Or I will continue to suffer with regret.