I Was Not Born A Writer

I have heard it said, “I was a writer from the start,” but that was not me. I was not born knowing how to put words to my thoughts or how to take those words from my mouth and place them on the page. I was not born understanding the characters dancing in my head or the worlds that needed building. I was not born knowing how to cultivate a storyteller’s touch or with the drive to wade through the world of publishing.

I was not born with the knowledge of the Hero’s Journey or the necessity of a
Beginning

Middle

and End.

I was not born knowing how to bring a character to life, how to give them emotion, how to make a reader feel what my characters experience, or how to make them seem just as three-dimensional as a true-living-breathing person.

I was not born knowing how to understand my five senses and use words to describe them. I was not born knowing the dynamic simple sentence or how to string a complex sentence together. I did not know the difference between the word “red” and “amaranth”, “sad” and “doleful”, “smell” and “reek”, or “hug” and “cradle”. I was not born knowing there are words that carry power, that stick in a reader’s memory like tacky glue or molasses or silly putty or sweat.

I was not born knowing the importance of a comma, the necessity of a period, the gift of quotation marks, or the beauty of an em dash. Punctuation can carry as much power as a word. I was not born knowing that truth.

I was not born knowing that readers need to laugh and cry (often at the same time). Or that readers need to root for their characters. Or that readers need characters with flaws. Need characters full of flaws. Characters that have flaws and yet, they still rise. They rise and conquer. They conquer, despite those flaws. I was not born knowing that characters need to save themselves or save others or are saved because of their flaws.

I was not born knowing how to create rhythm or prose that speaks. I was not born knowing how to draft and edit or knowing the difference between pantsing and plotting. I was not born with thick skin.

I was not born a writer.

But.

But I was born a creature of industry. I was born with the ability to establish habits, particularly the habit of working hard and steadily. I was born with the desire to practice and read, practice and read, practice and read. I was born with an internal need to experience the world fully, to know the stories of fellow men, to understand the lives of the people who have come before me. I was born with the need to interact with others intimately and with the beautiful world around us—to make connections, to research and learn and learn and learn.

I was born with an imagination. I was born with a powerful brain. I was born with a subconscious that works overtime when I sleep and dream.

I was born with each of the tools needed to place the stories I brainstorm on paper.

I was born with the capacity to become.

Four years ago today, I was in a car accident that changed my life and set me on the path to write my first book, which led to the second, the third, the fourth, fifth, sixth and on.

I was not born a writer.

But it is what I am.

    17 thoughts about "I Was Not Born A Writer"

    • Bonnie Wilcox says:

      Juliana,
      As your writing began, I wanted to say, “but you were born a writer!” But you held my attention and I kept reading. And now I understand and agree. Determination, imagination, a curious nature — what wonderful gifts!

      • Juliana says:

        Yes! Such wonderful gifts, Bonnie. I think I was born a “storyteller” and that has been cultivated by a family who loves to tell stories, so naturally, that has formed me into a writer. It did take a life-changing experience to push me onto the path to write those stories down. A blessing in disguise, yes? :)

        • Bonnie Wilcox says:

          In the midst of challenge and suffering, God is at work to help us find a way through. The butterflies drawn on the walls of a WWII extermination camp. The words of Holocaust survivors such as Viktor Frankl, and the courage of families such as Corrie Ten Boom’s to hide Jews in the face of discovery and certain death. Yes, I believe that the meaning you made from your accident is a gift. Would love to hear more about that. Was it the fragility of life? The life yet unlived? And whether you choose to share it or not, it is a joy to hear from your parents about your writing!

          • Juliana says:

            Actually, it was that I couldn’t do anything but sit on a couch for months while I healed! It was the opportunity I needed :) I’m so glad you commented. It’s wonderful to hear from you!

    • Laura Rueckert says:

      Great post! I have a non-writing friend who was surprised when I said I was revising my ms. She said she thought writers just wrote a book from start to finish and it was perfect. :-)

      I know there is still a lot I have to learn, but I always think – with determination – I can get there. I live in Germany, where they have a great word: lernfaehig. It means “with the ability to learn.” I may have a ways to go, but as long as I’m “lernfaehig,” I can get there.

      • Juliana says:

        Oh goodness, I love the word “lernfaehig!” Now I just wish I knew how to pronounce it ;) I truly believe there’s always more we can learn about writing, that part of the journey probably never ends.

        Sometimes I think it’s shocking to non-writers how many revisions are sometimes needed. Oof, haha ;)

    • Jess Byam says:

      This is fantastic. I consider myself one of those who was “born a writer”, but I still struggle with it and find the process difficult–especially when I see how “easy” it seems to be for so many other writers. I identify with so much of what you said, though, and it made me feel a lot better. I guess it doesn’t really matter when you start writing or how your process works as long as you keep at it and find your voice.

      And Laura, thank you for sharing that word, “lernfaehig”. I really like it! :)

      • Juliana says:

        Yes! It really can be frustrating when certain parts about the process are “easy” for others and infuriating to me. I think this is why it’s important to have writer friends–we see how real the journey is and that truly it isn’t easy for anyone. I, for one, think you have a lovely voice :)

    • JJ Toner says:

      Hi Juliana. What a wonderful thoughtful and thought-provoking post! I’m pretty sure I was not ‘born to write’ either, but I’ve always wanted to. And, like you, I keep learning. I think I’m more than lernfaehig, I’m only happy when I’m learning new stuff, and obsessive about it too. :) I had no idea you were injured in an accident. I hope you have fully recovered now. Please email me privately and let me know how your path to publishing is progressing. JJ

    • randy brandt says:

      Juliana,
      You capture the tension of “I-love-to-do-this” and “man-this-is-hard-work”. It’s the paradox of “This-gives-me-life” and “I’m-pouring-my-life-into-this.” It strikes me that this short reflection is something I would read in “Writer’s Digest” ! (seriously)

      But my question is, you were not born a writer, but, were you born to become one? . . . . born with a creative, story-telling spirit which yearns to find expression through something like writing so that becoming a writer is what you need to be to fulfill who you truly are.

      What do you think?
      -rb

    • [...] Introvert or Extrovert? And lastly, check out my post from this weekend: I Was Not Born A Writer [...]

    • Jamie Ayres says:

      What a beautiful post! I’m going to share this with my middle school Language Arts students :-)

    • ChemistKen says:

      I was definitely not born to be a writer. Heck, up until about four years ago, I mostly hated writing. But now I’m hooked on writing fiction. (Still hate writing reports at work, though).

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