There are days when I wonder what it means to be a writer.
I wanted to be many things. I responded to my mother’s question of what I wanted to be when I grew up first with “scientist”. I felt really unique for responding in such a way, knowing with smug pride that others said “astronaut” or “president”. Years later, I found myself also wanting to be an astronaut, though an irrational fear of assassination kept me from ever wanting to be president.
Through the varied possibilities of future occupations, the one I landed on last was “writer”. I found that I enjoyed writing toward the tail end of high school, when everything was filled with bleeding emotion, and I was so certain that my typically teenage thoughts weren’t so typical. Yet now, looking back, there were even more formative moments throughout my life that imprinted writing on my heart.
There were the years of reading novels until academics sucked the joy out of reading. There was the time when, alternatively, I wrote a quasi-fictional short story about my cousins for a writing assignment that received a good reaction from classmates. And there were the many characters I created with friends, wanting to one day create a magnum opus with all of the fantastic heroes and villains we had imagined.
Whatever the case, the dream of writing for a living quietly died under the porch of busy adult life. I couldn’t be sure of when it happened, but peeking through the stairs that I had climbed in order to reach some semblance of functional being yielded the sickly sweet odour of decay that had yet to completely disappear.
I am now studying again, for a vocation that I do love; and yet I find myself looking back at the porch with more and more regularity. Even as the lights dim and the stars climb into the night, I remain outside, flicking through old writing in wonderment, unsure of who had written such words under my name. A deep desire to write, a hunger for words arranged in certain orders not yet discovered still resides within the pit of my stomach. I wonder if I will ever be afforded the opportunity to retreat into the early mist of morning, sighing to see my breath crystallise into the air in front of me; then I might be able to write for hours and days.
Then, I might know what it means to be a writer.