That Moment When…
You realize that the book you’ve been struggling to write has already been written.
By experts more versed in the subject than you.
Who are better writers than you.
It seems there is no point in proceeding with the work. The deck is stacked against you. Success appears very unlikely. Why bother?
BUT you decide to proceed anyway because they didn’t tell it in your voice and you have something worthwhile to say. Their books are not the book you want to read or to recommend to other people.
For as far back as I can remember, I have been a reader. I loved books as a child and I read everything I could get my hands on. It did not matter if it was “age appropriate” or kid-friendly or any such label. I just loved to open a book or a magazine and slip into someone else’s mind and imagination. I never really thought that one day I would be a writer; I just loved to read.
As I progressed through school, I had some excellent teachers and some awful ones. Even the good ones took the class down avenues that never really rewarded our efforts. For instance, diagramming sentences did not make sense to me. I could do it, but I was much more interested in what the sentence said than in looking at the bones underneath it. Even so, I managed to pick up enough skill at writing reports and such to do well in high school and college.
While I was in college, I found and dove into a sub-culture called science fiction fandom. One of the oldest cliches in that culture is “scratch a reader, find a wanna be writer.” I did not actually believe that (then) as I just had too much reading to do to really accept it. And yet, somewhere along the way, I got into writing for this or that fanzine and was an active member in several amateur press alliances or associations, as well. (APAs claim a lineage going back to Benjamin Franklin. You may think of them as offline blogs with very active comment boards.)
During my early involvement in SF fandom, I was also active in the Alabama Libertarian Party, which led to my writing a few (unpaid) articles on political topics for a local free newspaper there in Birmingham. And, yet, I still did not think of myself as a writer, as what I was doing was just one step up from school work and, besides, it was all hobbies and minor-party stuff.
After moving to Memphis, I stayed active in SF fandom. I was in charge of one APA and a member in at least 1 or 2 others when I met my future wife. When she joined the APA that I ran, that helped to bind us together as a couple. So, my writing was starting to have an impact on my relationships, yet, I still did not think of myself as a writer.
My wife did see herself as a writer, at least enough so to attend many meetings of a local writers group. While that group was composed heavily of friends she had made from her involvement in a Star Trek fan club, I did sit in on some of the meetings. She and her sister co-wrote a horror story that was published in a local anthology and she picked up some tips and pointers that she has passed along to me. The writers group was her thing and I did not want to interfere, so I only rarely attended, as I did not see myself as a writer.
Fast forward several years and you find me starting a blog because the Notes feature on Facebook was just too restricted. That was 4 years ago now and I had already published over 100 blog posts on this site (plus a bunch more on my other blog sites) before I took the #Blogging101 class on WordPress.com recently.
Earlier this year, I was asked to be a freelance writer for a paying client who read my Notary Memphis blog. At that point, I was already starting to work on a book about being a notary public in Tennessee.
I was beginning to think that, just maybe, I was a writer after I received my first check for writing. That Moment When described above is when I knew I was a writer.
The point of writing is to communicate your narrative, your truth, your point of view, to others who will benefit from hearing it. To pour your soul into theirs, if only for a moment.
It does not matter if others have done the same thing before. In fact, it’s very likely that they have, many times. That some of them were more skilled, experienced, or knowledgeable than you is a given. What matters is that you are unique and you have your own voice.
I don’t know when I found my writer’s voice. I do know that I have one and it seems to be one to which some people respond pretty well.
For me, That Moment When I discovered that others had already written the book I was struggling to write, but I was going to write mine anyway because theirs was not in my voice, that is when I became a Writer and I knew it beyond any doubt.
If you are a writer, you have your own writer’s voice. Speak it with your writing. Practice it by writing often. Do what must be done to promote your work. Repeat until you succeed at YOUR goals.
So, when did YOU become a Writer?