We're getting ready to move, and as I've navigated my way through my clutter of paper, I've realized something. Before embarking on this project, I had a story about my writing life that went something like this: I've always wanted to write ever since I was a kid. As a fan of Harriet the Spy, I wrote in notebooks and created stories all through my childhood and my teens. When I was in my twenties, a well-meaning person told me that I could never be a novelist, and I believed it. In my thirties, I decided to just give it a try anyway, went the academic route, received an MA in creative writing, and taught as a lecturer. Then I decided that fiction wasn't for me and sold creative nonfiction to newspapers and magazines. After a while, I felt that wasn't my niche, and it took me until my fifties to go back to novels and to start writing books.
But, here in current time, I had these boxes of paper to go through, and what I soon realized was that, although it had seemed like there was periods in my life when I stopped writing, it wasn't really true. When I felt that I couldn't approach fiction or creative nonfiction any more, I composed songs. I wrote blogs. I reviewed things. I posted about songs and books I read and podcasts episodes that made me think. I analyzed The Good Wife. I wrote about anything that interested me in the hope that eventually I would have the strength and maturity to write novels. I eventually got there, but it was a windy road of words for me.
I'm still bringing some boxes of my paper with me to our new home. It will need to be filed. My old dented file cabinet has already been taken away. I didn't even say goodbye. Once we move in, I will need to face my boxes again and put things in order. Will I throw things away? Will I cry? Will I laugh and shake my head? I will probably do all of these things. But I will now know that I have actually always been a writer. It's just been in different ways, shapes, and forms.
I have a feeling that other writers will understand this story. Hopefully, you won't have to go through a mountain of clutter to realize it. But I would encourage everyone to take your writing legacy seriously. It all counts. It all brought you to where you are now as a writer.