i am a writer.

The first time I answered the “what do you do?” question with “I’m a writer,” the follow-up, of course, was “who do you write for?”

Well, here’s the thing. I don’t consider my pay-the-bills job a writing job. I do write for that job—quite a bit, actually—but it is also an editing/art direction/photography/management/production/on-and-on-and-on job. So to explain who I write for within the context of this polite, getting-to-know-you conversation is hard. I guess at the moment I write for myself, with the goal to have my (non pay-the-bills) words read by other people someday.

Until I get that book published, however, I’m a writer because it keeps me sane. It’s a creative outlet, a place to get out frustrations, anger, fantasies, through worlds and characters that I create from scratch. I get to decide if my main character is young, old, green, purple, boy, girl, human, mouse, verbal, silent, smart, dumb. My sky can be blue or orange, suffocating or freeing, angry or sad.

I’m a writer because its a way for me to keep learning, even though I’m not in school. It makes me learn about different periods of history, different cultures, different ways of thinking. It makes me learn about the art of crafting a story that isn’t a news story (I’ve said before journalism taught the flowers and flourishes out of my writing).

I’m a writer because its a challenge. I read so many books with beautiful twists of phrase, unexpected metaphors, inspired stories. I want to find my own version of that special magic that happens with a really great piece. It isn’t easy for me, but I don’t think I want it to be easy.

I’m a writer because I was born this way, and if I ignore it, I’m denying a piece of myself.

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