Recently a high school friend commented on something I'd written on Facebook and said "I always thought you'd grow up to be a writer". And my reaction to that was to think, sort of bitterly, "Yeah, me too".
Then a few days or weeks or whatever later I thought to myself, wait a minute. I am a writer. I have been a writer. I've been paid to write things. Why did I react that way, feeling disgust and disappointment? Because I've never written a novel or published a story in the New Yorker? The only thing that's making me "not a writer" is that I haven't been writing.
And there are plenty of reasons for that. Moving to Minneapolis, while I have no regrets at all other than leaving my friends behind, was traumatic. I struggled a lot with my depression and had to focus really hard to get it managed. Writing about being miserable is therapeutic, but not always interesting (to anyone, the writer or the audience). I was tired of writing about my kids, and no longer felt comfortable having them as my main topic but still had them as the utter center of my existence, leaving not much to say. My laptop died, and writing on an iPad felt like a pain in the ass, but forcing myself to sit at the desktop was easy to avoid doing. I think my reliance on Facebook and Twitter, which increased once I left my real life social network, was the worst culprit--I was already saying all my stuff, in tidy little doses, all day long! And on and on, the usual bunch of excuses.
The sad thing is, I missed out on getting to dig deep into things I was thinking about and transfer them into words. I paid lip service to sharing meals I'd cooked, shoes I'd bought, or trips I'd taken, but didn't allow myself the pleasure of describing them in depth. I basically robbed myself of a couple years of future nostalgia about the things that have been important to me, and that's too bad. I wasted a lot of time not improving my craft.
So, it's time to be a writer again.