In conjunction with the release of her book Love Letters To Writers, Andi Cumbo-Floyd encouraged writers to compose a letter to their writer selves. This is my offering.
Do you remember how you used to fill notebooks with the stories that filled your head? How your mind came alive when you read words–yours and others’–on the page? You would shove those notebooks in the hands of anyone who happened to be within five feet of you and stand nearby, waiting for their comments, looking for someone to tell you that what you had written was good.
You’re still doing that, aren’t you? Pouring out what’s inside of you into a space for others to see, sitting back, waiting for their approval.
Can I make a bold statement? You don’t need it. The approval. Not really. Not where it counts. Because this writing thing is not simply a thing that you do. It is who you are. And who you are needs no stamp of approval from anyone else. You already bear the Divine Image. That you might bear it differently than others doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.
Do you remember how the writing part of you shifted when you aligned your life with its Maker? It is like what happens when the chain falls off your bicycle–you still have a bike but you can’t really go anywhere until you put the chain back on the chain ring. Then, the places you can go! You pushed that bicycle along for years, wanting to toss it aside for a more reliable ride. But then something happened and everything clicked into place. Your bicycle–your writing–began to operate as it was meant to, and it took you on a journey and you’ve never really stopped.
Sure, sometimes the bicycle needs a tune-up. And there have been times it has taken a bit of a beating and needed time to be repaired. Sometimes you fall and you just can’t get back on right away.
All of those things are completely normal parts of the journey. What matters most is that you don’t get rid of it–the writing. You couldn’t if you tried.
While it might seem that some people are enthusiastic about writing or think of it as a hobby, what I see in you goes deeper than that. Writing is buried so deep in the core of who you are that it is both essential to your very being and almost hidden from view. Where do you end and where does writing begin? It is a futile question. Stop asking. Embrace the truth: you and writing are soul mates. Inseparable.
You don’t always love it, and that’s okay. You don’t always love you, and that’s okay, too.
Sometimes you just need someone else to say what you can’t. Let me say it for you:
You are a writer. I suspect you always have been.
You have a gift. You don’t want to hear this because you think it sounds arrogant, but it is what you were given. Accept it. Receive it. Show it to the world and tell them Who gave it to you.
Your words are important. Hold on to the times when people tell you they have been affected by your words. And consider that for every person who tells you what your work meant to them, there are at least as many who have never told you that.
Your work has value. Even when you aren’t getting paid. Maybe even more so when you aren’t getting paid. You’ve heard others say that the writing is its own reward. Believe it.
You are not a mistake. I know there are days when you’d rather be anything else. You want the kind of regularity and security any other profession seems to offer. You doubt your calling even as it calls to you daily. Remember, you are a unique creation. Not everyone lives with a world of stories in their head. You do, and there is a reason for it.
These words won’t banish all the doubts or make you completely comfortable with who you are as a writer. But I hope they give you something to come back to when you have the kind of days that make you want to give it all up. (And maybe on the days when you have some measure of success. Come back, then, too.)
This writing life is hard, I know. But you don’t have to be hard on yourself.
Go easy, dear one. Be gentle with yourself. And don’t be afraid of what is new or next or different.
You are loved. Just as you are.