11/1/09

What makes you qualified?

After being intimidated by other writers’ bookshelves, credentials, or degrees, I asked myself, “What makes me qualified to be a writer?”  Some authors have had a passion for reading, since childhood. They devoured every classic novel they could get their hands on from Anne of Green Gables to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. With all this literary juices flowing through their veins, they knew they were going to be a writer some day.

I felt intimidated and down right dumb.

No ridiculously large bookshelf collection here. (Fourteen books read since May 2009 but that’s small potatoes in a writer's world). I had no idea I wanted to be a writer until a year ago and as far as qualifications I ain’t got squat. (Just get over it, I said ain’t.)

But…I’ve got a passion for words. 

Taking a look back on my life, I recalled a few random events that I believe told me I was a writer before I ever knew it. As a kid my Momma would take me to the Sears toy section, and I would always grab up a few mini classic pocket books. Here I fell in love with The Last of the Mohicans and short stories by Edger Allan Poe (Oh, The Tell-Tale Heart *shivers*). Our family received a subscription to National Geographic. I devoured every single word in that publication. One time, as a punishment, my parents made me write a summary on a moth article. Little did my parents know I enjoyed writing and reviewing the moth's history (Sorry, Mom.) In middle school, I rewrote funny stories from Mad magazine. My favorite was my own rendition of a Barbara Walters interview.

Then I remembered, I AM published! Now you may laugh but I had a poem about the seasons published in a South Carolina Living magazine. Though my mother has long since lost the publication and my definitive proof is lost forever, I will mark it down as personal victory. (Don't worry I don't plan on mentioning this as one of my credentials.) And I wrote poetry. Lots of it. Did any writer not channel their teenage angst through poetry?

For me the most compelling piece of evidence that I was destined to be a writer is my love of words. Scribbled in various spiral notebooks I have lists of my favorite words. Words I've read or heard in passing that I felt compelled to look up their meanings and write them down in a personal notebook so I’d never forget them. I remember the first time I heard the word smitten, it seemed to me the perfect descriptive of love. My obsession with music is fueled by words. Lyrics are poetry set to music created to transport you to a special place in time.
  

Though none of these things make me “qualified” they do quantify my passion, and it’s that passion that will make me strong enough for the fight. Coming from the bottom of the pile, I have no place to go but up. I’ll do the work, take courses, attend conferences, bone up on the classics, etc. etc. I’ll do what it takes and then someday I will be published. So as I immerse myself into the world of writers and the fear of agents and being published starts to get the best of me, I will remember the famous words of Muhammad Ali, “If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.”

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