I've been reading this awful, horrible, mean article over and over again. I've been using it as an excuse to hate myself and hate my writing and give up. You know why? Because everything she said-- "you are not good," and so forth, is true. It's exactly what I've been thinking about myself for the past year, and now someone's spitting it back at me.
It felt like a stab in my chest, over and over again. It felt like it was directed specifically at me, written just for me, to find, one lonely Friday night, in a hapless Google search for "I am a bad writer."
You are not a good writer, she said, and now I'm lost, and I'm finally realizing that it's the truth.
I used to think I was born to write. I would write stories and poems and scribble things as a kid into notebooks and on my palm, and in class I would daydream of situations and scenarios, I would devour books with the intensity of rabid dogs to learn more, to fill myself with more information, to learn more words and more things to write about. I was a writer. And in high school, I wasn't too good at art or science or math, but that was okay. And I wasn't good at music or photography or geography, but that was okay, because I would wake up, and I would think, "I am a writer." And so I would write.
But my characters were all variations of me, and the articles I wrote for the school paper were maddening blog posts about why I hated Twilight. Rereading them now, I cringe, embarrassed of the stupidity of my former self and angry at everyone who told me I was good.
How dare they?
Teachers told me I was funny, and I reveled in it. Because I was a writer. And the fact that I wasn't too good at anything else didn't matter-- the slightly-below-average grades didn't matter, the C- level essays and the piled up late slips from biology class didn't matter either, because I was a writer. I wrote. Ink was in my bloodstream and I wrapped myself in deep sea metaphors, so sure of my talents and the reason I was born.
I came to journalism school-- the dream, for years, although I had accepted two other completely unrelated programs before getting the call I had been waiting for.
First year, I arrived eager, excited, feeling relatively confident about my "abilities" as a "writer," and wanting to learn.
But first year was hard, and reporting was boring, and the sap of my creativity dripped out of me little by little.
My professor encouraged me. Week after week, email after email as I harassed her in the coming summer, she would say "You're a feature writer, Sofie. You are."
And I almost believed her.
A few days ago, I tweeted the link to the article up there. I said that it made me feel awful. Rob Duffy tweeted at me and said this: Don't listen to a word of that, it's nonsense. Here's all you need to know: you only become a writer if you HAVE to write.
I think he was trying to be helpful, but every other website I found when I Googled "I am a terrible writer" yielded the same results-- writers feel the urge, the need, the overpowering desire to write more than any other feeling.
A rock sunk to the pit of my stomach and I knew I was doomed. Because I knew that feeling before, when words were my friends, when I thought I was good even when I was terrible, when I wrote short stories about virgin boys who smoked pot who were really me in disguise, when I wrote poems about the numbers on the bathroom scale.
But I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel the need to write. I'm terrified of it. I'm terrified to write, to put a pen to paper, to put a finger to the keyboard, to do an assignment, to start on an essay, to write anything other than a to-do list for the week, to call myself a writer and not shut my eyes immediately afterwards.
And I'm writing this post now because I have no other option. No other way to express the feeling inside of me, no other outlet to talk, to show how absolutely fucking horrible and useless I feel, except to use the words I so desperately want to avoid.
I cannot be a writer and if I can't be that then I don't know what to be. I wrote because I felt I was born to do it, but now I am just born. And that's the worst part.