I have a writer friend who is having a bit of a tough time right now, and I am writing this for you. (You know who you are.)
It is okay, natural, and possibly even healthy that you are having trouble embracing your writer identity right now. Take your time about it–it’s an important identity to get to know. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: your writer identity is like your super hero identity. Yes, I’m serious. Right now you’re learning to find the super hero within.
On the outside, writers may appear like normal human beings. Some of us are frumpy or bad dressers, some of us need haircuts. Many of us wear spectacles. Some of us have unexpected hair colors or holes in our bodies that weren’t there when we were born. Some of us have a clear affinity to steam punk and corsets, others to shapeless T-shirts with geeky slogans on them. A lot of us are introverts, and we can often be found with our noses stuck in a book (or a smart phone, or a Kindle, or…). But all of this is just a facade, a way to divert attention from our secret identities.
All writers are super heroes. We fight ignorance and apathy, loss of wonder and despair. We entertain people who deeply need to be distracted from pain or sickness. We make people think of consequences, both of personal actions and society’s decisions. We remind people of what it is to be human, both the good and the bad, and we inspire people to strive for the best.
Many writers live in the stars. We dream of times past and future, reinterpreting what has happened and twisting together visions of what is to come. We deal in possibilities, in vast heroics and small personal acts of courage, in envisioning worlds that we hope for and fear. We keep the spark of ideas alive, even ideas that aren’t enjoying their time in the public spotlight, so that someday when we need them, they will still be available to us.
We create characters who take the proxy role of mother and father, husband and wife, best friend, diabolical arch-nemesis, and noble mentor. We teach people how to live, how to survive through hard times, and how to die. We serve as society’s mirror and conscience simultaneously.
Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we feel like we’re not really super heroes after all, and we don’t belong in the Super Hero League of Awesomeness. Maybe we lack some credentials, or maybe we don’t know the right people, or maybe we’re not good enough yet. Maybe not enough people read our stories or buy our books or follow us on Twitter. We are unsung, unappreciated, without creative mojo. We toil away in our anonymity and obscurity, wondering if what we’re doing even matters.
But oh, my friend, when you ask yourself this question (as I know you will, because we all do), answer with a resounding Yes! It is the lot of a super hero to be handed thankless tasks and toil away with little personal reward. But we continue because of our conviction that it matters; that we can, in our own humble way, make a difference.
We give the world its voice. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.