Mar 9, 2013

To write or not to write - Non-Fiction - All audiences.

This week’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt was “write a short essay from the starting point: being a writer”.
I have been playing with it all week, but never got around to writing anything down or working anything out. I had an idea of where to go, but none whatsoever on how to get there.

I guess that’s what “being a writer” is all about.

I’ve always loved to write, ever since I was a kid. In elementary, those were my favorite assignments, my favorite kind of homework. Take an idea, a paragraph or a handful of keywords and do something with it. Create something. Make some magic.
As a kid, I never thought of it as magic, I just really loved doing it. The words usually came naturally to me and I never tried to put a stop to that, never limited myself to the “minimum requirements” for the assignment. Sometimes that minimum requirement would be expressed in number of pages, other times it was expressed in a minimum number of words. I never had my eye on those. I would just get started and finish when I was done, not when I had reached that “goal”. It never was a goal for me to “write 500 words” or “fill 4 pages”. No, I always wrote a story, as requested.
I’ll never forget that one day in 6th grade. My teacher had a habit of taking my assignment and putting it at the bottom of the stack, while every other one was put on top. I had been wondering about it, but at age 12, I was nowhere near confident (or ballsy) enough to ask her about it, so I complained to my mom (who worked at the school cafeteria). Mom’s wouldn’t be mom’s if she didn’t take my hand and take me to find my teacher to ask her. I got a reply I will never, not ever, forget.
My teacher, Miss Martine, told me she had several reasons for doing that, for putting my assignment at the bottom of the pile. The first reason was that my stories were always the longest, so she needed less time to read all of the others and kept the longest one for last. That already made sense to me and would’ve satisfied my desire for an explanation to her behavior. But that wasn’t the main reason. The main reason was that, not only were my stories always the longest, they were also always the best, so she kept mine for last to have something to look forward to while reading all the other ‘crap’.

Imagine being 12 and your favorite teacher tells you that!

That was my first boost.
It wasn’t the last.
In middle school (or junior high if you want to call it that), my French teacher (very eccentric, but awesome lady) convinced me to take part in a national writing contest. It happened on a Wednesday afternoon and I think I was 15 at the time. We had 4 hours to write a story. No prompts, no keywords, no topic, no directives, no limits, no nothing. You have four hours, start writing.
Out of almost 300 contestants, I came in 9th.
You were saying?

Nowadays, I fill my pages and my time with as many words as I can possibly squeeze in. I have switched from writing in Dutch (my mother tongue) to writing in English (and you have Jack Bauer to blame for that, so don’t look at me!!) and I have grown massively over the years. When I go back to read my earlier stories, I keep thinking “Did I write that crap?” and even more so “And people actually liked it????”.
That’s right!
People actually liked it.
Good people. Smart people. Educated people … Well, most of them anyways, there’s always the odd retard who finds his way to your neck of the woods.

Am I a writer?
Maybe, I don’t know.
Sometimes it feels weird saying that, or writing that.
But, what else could I call myself?
An amateur writer?
But why an amateur?
I don’t like that word.
I may not be a published writer, but does that really mean I should call myself an amateur?
Does the fact your work is published make you a writer?
If not, what does?
What qualifies someone as ‘a writer’?
Is it enough to write to be called a writer?
Write stories that is, not poems for instance, because then you’re a poet. But isn’t a poet also a writer? And isn’t a writer also a poet, for instance when a description is poetic enough to move the reader?
Is that what makes someone a writer? To have readers?
If that’s so, I’ve been a writer ever since I was in elementary!

As for the ideas I had flying around my head all week about this prompt … this wasn’t one of them!

I guess that is what ‘being a writer’ is all about!

More entries for this week's challenge can be found here


  1. Fantastic! It really is, isn't it? The magical tangents that shouldn't amount to a complete thought, but we make it happen anyway. :) Well done.

    It's fun knowing a little more about your history through your writing, too. From that story, I'm a big fan of your mom's.