done looking for the critics (week 8)

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. As a child, I had my parents read me The Berenstain Bear's Go To School nightly. Around the age of 5, I excitedly told them that I knew how to read and proceeded to "read" every single page. In reality, I recited the story from memory and also knew when to turn the pages, but in my child's mind, I was a genius.
My Nana was a reading specialist, before I was born, in Detroit, and so stories were also important to her. She had my dad read to me, while I was in my mother's womb, and accounts my love of the written word to this. I would have to agree with her as it's apparent that I was born both a writer and a reader.

In college, I (eventually) majored in professional writing. Through the courses in the school of journalism, as well as the English courses I took while a creative writing major, I read a lot. Some were books I enjoyed and wanted to read. Others were not. This onslaught of reading made it quite difficult to read just for pleasure, so I didn't - unless I was on vacation.

The same could be said for writing. I did do some writing for pleasure but most of it was for class and for a grade. I learned so much during my five years of college - not picking a major made it difficult to graduate in four and I probably would have stayed longer if I could have - but I also lost my love for the written word.

It's taken me nearly four years to rediscover it. Four years of really only diving into a book while on vacation. Four years of rewriting and editing the same novel. Four years of writing short stories only when someone gave me a prompt because it was too difficult for me to think of an idea. Four years of simultaneously forgetting everything I learned, remembering everything I learned, and reminding myself that it is okay to need help with writing.

The irony is not lost on me that it took me an entire bachelor's degree to recover from the bachelor's degree I hold. At least this time, no one had to pay for the courses - though there's plenty of bills to pay for real life.

I finished a book last night. The third in The Mortal Instruments series. I couldn't sleep, except for between 11pm and 1am and then again 4am and 6:50am, so I worked on a few things around the house and read. I started the books only a few weeks ago, right after finishing The Hunger Games, and I can't wait to dive into another book.

With every book I read, I feel like I discover something about myself. Sometimes its a new author I love. Other times its content that shows up on the blog. Not every discovery is big or earth shattering, but it's there.

This time I realized how badly I want to be an author. I've mentioned it before on the blog - more in passing than as an actual statement. And then I have gone about my life without diving into life as an author. Because doing that is scary. But I know it's who I am and that the longer I spend not writing the more I will feel adrift.

And I have been adrift the past few weeks. Not exercising. Struggling with what to eat and how to eat. Losing my footing on this journey towards health. It all goes back to defining who I am at the core, and who I am at the core is a writer - whether numerous people read my blog or no one read its; whether I become a best selling author or I'm never published.

The first book I ever wrote was a children's book. It was for an assignment in school. I wrote about a skunk who got trapped in a high school - the high school I ended up attending and graduating from. I illustrated the entire book as well and enjoyed telling of all the skunk's adventures. My mom still has the book.

The second book I really wrote was for class. I had (and still have) half-finished manuscripts and other stories I wrote for fun, but my senior year of college, I completed an entire novel about a girl who goes to China and what happens when she comes back.

Now I'm working on my third book. It's slow, but it's getting there. And maybe, just maybe, third time will be the charm.

I think rediscovering myself as a writer is integral for every aspect of my life - especially the journey of losing (and then maintaining the loss of) 100 pounds. Because if I don't have as firm a grasp as possible on who I am, I doubt the weight loss will be something that sticks.

So I'm on my way. Working diligently on the novel. Thinking about it all the time. Anticipating the next time I can write. Fitting it into my daily schedule, even if for just a few minutes. Just like I will once again do with exercise.

(title from "f*ckin' perfect" by pink)
Note: this post was sponsored in part by Blue Matter Marketing. All opinions and thoughts are my own. For online writing tutoring, please visit www.thewritingfaculty.com - a site that provides assistance and tutoring for writers of all ages and levels.

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