Okay, I’ve decided it’s about time I came out and told everyone that I write. There, I’ve said it. I’ll even say it again: I write.
That must make me a writer, although I feel fraudulent saying that. It feels strange, embarrassing even. Like people are going to laugh and say, ‘Phht! What does she know about writing? She’s a maths/science person. Creatively ignorant, culturally illiterate, she wasn’t even good at English.’
To be honest, it doesn’t feel like me. Not yet. That’s why I’ve only just started telling people. I’ve spent the past couple of years closeted away with my novel, keeping it pretty much to myself in much the same way you keep an early pregnancy to yourself in case it miscarries. It gave me time to try it out and see if it fit. I even tried a practice blog last year but didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want people to read it. I know, rather defeats the purpose…
How did I get here?
I was a maths/science kid. When I left school, I took the safe option and pursued the scientific pathway. I studied Medicine and became a doctor. I will never regret that decision. How I loved that stimulating world: the copious volumes of information; the delicious medical jargon; the complexity of people and their bodies; the joy of birth and the finality of death; the privilege of sharing people’s most vulnerable and intimate moments. What other profession has that?
When I first graduated, I remember feeling uncomfortable calling myself a doctor—I felt as if I hadn’t yet earned my stripes. It happened again when I became a wife, and then a mother. I remember how strange it felt on our honeymoon saying I was waiting for ‘my husband’. Now, of course, it flows very naturally—I see myself as a doctor, wife, mother. In time, I know I will accept my new identity as a ‘writer’, too.
I no longer practise medicine. As a mother, I found that I couldn’t give it the time it deserved. And my family were suffering. I pressed my ‘on’ button each morning as I jumped into my shoes to churn through the day. I needed to become a machine or I needed to make a change—the latter was more do-able, so I quit work. I miss it, but not enough.
Not being one to twiddle my thumbs, I enrolled in an online writing course. It whet my appetite more than I ever thought it could, and so I began writing. Prior to this, my last creative writing piece had been ‘My Friend Fred’, which I’d written at age fourteen (I did get 17/20 for it!). In writing, I discovered another intellectually stimulating world, albeit one very different to medicine, with ups and downs of a different kind. And there are thrills: the thrill of creating something that wasn’t there before, something out of nothing, then watching it grow and change and do surprising things. Every day I get to do that and I have that to look forward to every time I wake—no wonder I’m never bored at work!
In 2010 I launched into workshops and writing groups, and decided almost immediately that I wanted to write a novel. For the past couple of years, I’ve hidden in my attic, punching out hundreds of thousands of words while barely telling a soul. Some of those words might even make it into the finished book!
I’m writing the final scene now, and have just printed the whole thing out ready to start revising. I recently received word that two shorter pieces I wrote have been accepted for an anthology coming out later in 2013.
Now that it’s coming together and I don’t think I’m going to miscarry, I can announce that I am a writer. My brother reminded me recently that despite my new identity, I’m still the same person on the inside and he still loves me.
So, here’s to a bright future out of the closet.