By guest blogger Valeka Cruz
FOR AS LONG as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a writer.
By the time I was eight years old, I knew that I wanted to create magical stories with characters that spoke to my readers. I spent hour upon hour in my bedroom writing short stories, scripts based on TV shows I watched and, at one point, I even wrote a book (a short book but a book nonetheless).
Some were handwritten on loose-leaf notebook paper and others were typed using my parents old baby blue Smith-Corona typewriter. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “a writer.”
One day during one of these conversations, a very close family member asked if he could read something I had written. I eagerly ran to my bedroom to carefully select the story I felt was my best. With a sense of pride and a smile on my face, I handed him the handwritten pages.
As he read the story, I searched his face for any indication of what he may be thinking of it. When he finished, he handed it back and said it was “okay.” He proceeded to inform me that the career I sought was neither practical nor sensible.
“Do you know how hard it is to become a published writer? So many people try but fail.”
I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to be published but my heart was broken. If this person I trusted didn’t think I was capable of being a writer, then how could anyone else think otherwise? Or how could I believe I could, for that matter.
From that point on, any writing I did was in secret and went unshared. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my stock answer became “I’m not sure yet.”
I never completely abandoned the notion of becoming a writer but I did keep it to myself. It was (is!) the passion of my life and I knew I could never really walk away from it. For years, most of my writing was done in the form of journaling.
After a few years, I finally got up the nerve to take a screenwriting workshop, but the idea of being told my work was just “okay” stayed in my head.
During the course, I learned I’d be required to share my work with other workshop participants. We were asked to write specific types of scenes and the scenes would be read aloud. I was reluctant to share and hoped I wouldn’t have to. I even considered not attending on the day I was to have my scenes read.
After the readings, I was told I showed a great deal of talent and promise as a writer. I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was cut out to be a writer.
Feeling renewed, I mentioned to the same family member that I was giving writing another whirl. Again, he had the same reaction. Again, I wondered why I was even bothering with the idea of becoming a writer. From what I’d been told, the odds of me selling anything were slim and screenwriting was far from “practical or sensible.”
The secret writing began again. Journals continued to be filled.
After I completed that workshop, only those closest to me knew I was a closeted writer. I didn’t allow them to read anything I’d written. My continued journaling eventually led me to blogging. It wasn’t until I created my health and wellness blog a year ago that I allowed a select few—and when I say a “few,” I mean three people—to read anything I had written. I kept my blog as anonymous as possible by not having my name on it, never putting pictures of myself on it and never promoting it.
I began to receive a lot of positive feedback from the few friends I allowed to read it. They related to what I was saying but, most importantly, they believed in ME. They began sharing my blog posts with others through social media and email. Soon I was receiving comments from total strangers expressing how they related to my stories and struggles.
I finally felt my writing had purpose. What I was sharing was resonating with many others so how could my writing be just okay? The truth was, it was more than okay. I write from my heart to empower others to do what they think they cannot and, by doing so, I have empowered myself.
Now I guest blog for various websites and I’m working on my first novel. I used my newfound confidence in my abilities as a writer to let that family member know I’m writing for various websites and that they appreciate what I write. He said “This writing thing seems to have happened overnight, don’t you think?” I replied with “Nope. It’s been 30 years in the making and it’s here to stay.”
I don’t like to think about the time I’ve lost being closeted by fear and negativity. I prefer to think about my future as a writer and embracing the opportunities that I have NOW. It’s been a long, hard road to get to this place but this is my time to shine and I’m loving every minute of it!———
Valeka Cruz (@runningonheavy) is a freelance writer and blogger living happily in Austin Texas with her three fur babies. Her weekly blog, Running On Heavy, provides health and wellness motivation along with life lessons. She loves chocolate, hiking, laughing, hot tea and, especially, writing (not necessarily in that order depending on what kind of a day it is).