My mother is a writer.
All of my life she has called herself a writer. I must admit that during most of my growing up she only wrote in her journal. Before she began her blog I actually didn’t see much concrete evidence of her writer status. However, she has always been a writer and I never doubted that.
I didn’t have a title until I went to acting school. After a few years I felt comfortable calling myself an actor. Well, actress – I don’t like the whole politically correct thing of everyone being actors now. I had my own title, I had my own life, things were good.
Then about a year ago I took a playwriting class.
God forbid I ever call myself a writer. I have always written, but it was more of a hobby. An interest, nothing more. I kept a diary from the age of 6, on and off, wrote several skits with my brothers, wrote a children’s novel in my teens that I never did anything with and I have at least half a dozen unfinished stories in my head and in my filing cabinet, but I was not a writer. It was an interest, an acceptable interest for an actress. Supplemental income and all that rot. So I took the class.
Within two months I began to wrestle with my titles. My teacher was calling me a writer. My classmates were calling me a writer. The other instructors in the school were calling me a writer.
I refused to accept it. Even though I was writing and nothing had ever felt so perfectly natural to me, I rejected the title with all the strength and stubborn willpower in my body.
I struggled and procrastinated like I had never done before in my entire life. The things I would do instead of writing! I suddenly found a passion for my annotated bibliography, the most pointless course I take here; I don’t think my room has ever been so clean and orderly. I vacuumed. I hate vacuuming. I washed other people’s dishes. Anything so that I could avoid writing my play.
I put an astounding amount of energy into avoiding writing. My ideas would come, my spirit would whisper to my muse, and I would evade eye contact. “If I can’t see you, then you aren’t reeeallll,” right?
I can only live in denial for so long, but it took a lot of wrestling before I broke down and called myself a writer. It did break me, even though I was alone that first time.
I go for walks when my thoughts get too jumbled up to the cemetery up on the hill, an old cemetery full of old graves of long forgotten people. I walked around the dead, watching my feet swish through the grass, scaring the grasshoppers into their rain-pattering flight. I was railing against God. Against my play. My idea, the only one I’d been given, was too big. Too dangerous. Too painful. It wasn’t fair, and I told God so.
I crumpled to the ground and with tears falling down my face I looked up to the sky and said, “I’m a fucking writer. Okay? I’m a writer. And I hate it.”
I uttered the phrase with a mouth full of resentment and bitterness. It wasn’t fair, I was an actress, I was not my mother, I refused to become my mother, and I knew this was the first step down a long and impossible backslidden slope.
Months later I finally said the words to someone else. I think my passion for writing equals my passion to act. It was strange to hear those words coming out of my mouth. The strangest part was that my resentment had disappeared. It was suddenly okay for me to admit that I could, perhaps, be a writer.
I’ve spent way too much time trying to figure out why I had such a strong negative reaction to being called a writer. I’m no closer to an answer, and no closer to knowing why it became okay. But I can call myself a writer now.
It scares me, but there is a peace in the fear along with an excitement as I explore this newly forgiven aspect of myself. The world seems like an open book, my oyster chock-full of pearls just waiting for me to come along and pick them up.
Like mother. Like daughter.
I’m okay with that now.