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What makes YOU a writer? by Ashley Cameron

Writing has helped me through many breakups and trying times.  She has been my partner, my therapist, my emotional North Star guiding me through the treacherous years of adolescents. Last year I self-published my first novel, it took me 8 months and $800 in editing fees. It required a lot of patience and persistence. I can recall two nights when I almost gave up but I didn’t. I pushed through the writer’s block and now my book, The In-between, is available for sale on Amazon. Some might consider my monthly royalties check the thing that makes me a writer but I don’t. I’m a writer because I’m constantly writing. …Even when a pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) are nowhere in sight.

I will explain what that actually means later, but first some background information:

In second grade we were asked to write a short story, illustrate it and take it home to our parents.  My story was about a duckling who didn’t want to go to sleep at bedtime. In fact, she refused to go to sleep. I used the word “refuse” in my story and was on Cloud Nine. I remember going home and telling my mom about my above average word choice.  Looking back, I’m not sure if “refuse” is even that big of a word for a second grader but I do know this is my earliest memory of writing

When I was in 6th grade my classmates and I were instructed to write a short paragraph and then share it with a small group of peers. As I read my sentences out loud to my two best friends they mocked my seemingly endless descriptive words and detail.

“Whoa. Someone took this assignment seriously,” they snickered.

Inside I was confused. I thought I had just completed the assignment. It didn’t take me extra time to add adjectives before my verbs.  My short, apparently very detailed, paragraph came naturally to me. …I had yet to learn not trying and not caring were far cooler than writing well.

I didn’t think anything about my writing abilities until the 7th grade when  I received confirmation that my writing was in fact different than my peers. Confirmation in the form of a paper plate… (this is the time to Google Paper Plate Awards if you don’t know where this is going…) My teacher awarded other classmates with cool badges to sport in the middle school halls like class clown and best smile, while I got best writer written in her loopy handwriting on a paper plate. I’m sure I stuffed the “award” somewhere in a notebook, hiding it from my peers and being super cool by, you know, not caring…

By the way, bonus cool points for not owning a journal because I definitely did not write my feelings, thoughts and opinions in one of those lame things.

In college, I finally embraced my writing gene and started experimenting with more than just school essays and journal entries. I started blogging and then writing short stories and eventually wrote a novel.

Present day, my first self-published novel The In-between is available for sale on Amazon. Of course I am proud and humbled when someone says they have bought my book or read my blog but, as mentioned,  these sentences aren’t the ones that make me a writer.

What makes me a writer is the sentences that are formed in my head.  What I mean is, there is a commentary constantly playing inside my head that is drafting and editing sentences.  I am essentially in this brain-write state where my mind takes everyday experiences and starts writing about them; sometimes in the form of a reporter, official and factual, and other times more like a blogger, real and raw. Occasionally I’ll brain-write in the third person; like when I was the most heartbroken I’ve been in my life and I found myself at a McDonalds drinking cheap coffee and wallowing. I remember thinking (writing) in my head:

The coffee was bad but she didn’t care.

Did this sentences turn into anything? A short story about a heart broken girl? No, it didn’t. It never even made it to paper until right now. It was just a sentence (that I still remember) written in my head about a moment in my life. This happens a lot.

When I am at the beach experiencing a glorious day – a beautiful moment in life with the sand in between my toes and the waves crashing – I’m brain-writing about it. When I’m fighting with my boyfriend and questioning what we are arguing about – I’m brain-writing; she looked at him and couldn’t decide if she wanted to run away with him … or from him.

Most of my life’s experiences are laced with this writer’s narrative that lives and dies in my own head. Of course some of these sentences makes it to paper – or a Word document I guess would be more accurate – but not all my writing transcends to the written word. This is what makes me a writer. I am a writer because I am constantly writing; even when a pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) are nowhere in sight.

Ashley’s Author Page

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