I am a writer

I am a writer.

As silly as it may sound, that was a really hard sentence for me to type.  Like excruciatingly, maddeningly, I-had-to-force-myself-to-type-it-one-letter-at-a-time hard.  Why?  Why is that something I love to do, something that feels so right – how can that be so damn difficult for me and so damn difficult to own for myself?

When I was 14, I fancied myself a writer.  I had always loved writing and making up stories as a child but I thought of myself as more of a reader than a writer.  And one day that changed.  My freshman english teacher gave us a story that ended halfway through the story.  We had to write an ending to it.  And boy did I – I wrote the shit out of that ending.  My ending was BRILLIANT if I do say so myself.  It was inventive and had a cool twist and I just knew it was made of awesome.  And that felt so good.  To see it all there on paper and know that I HAD WRITTEN THAT!  It felt even better the next day when my teacher read my ending out loud to the whole class and said “You see that people – that’s what I want you to do – that’s how I want you to write”.  I was so proud that my heart nearly burst.

My reading and my writing saved me in high school.  When my non-existent study habits and my undiagnosed learning disability threatened to land me up Shit Creek, I grabbed on to my pen and wrote my way out of it.  I once won an award at a state Academic Decathlon competition in the essay division on a subject I knew almost nothing about – to this day I’m both so proud and so ashamed of that.  Writing was the log that I grabbed onto in the river of uncertainty that I swam in.  Going back through my journals from that time is painful but also heart-warming.  I was miserable but I also had a certainty and a sureness that I feel like I lack now – a sureness that I was made for something better and that I had something to offer the world.

So what happened? I got to college and sank – weighed down by my own insecurities.  Frustrated by the way I constantly set myself up for failure.  Caught up in the way other people defined me.  You know – the usual.

Later on, I worked with people who thought of themselves as writers and listened to them when they told me that they would stick to their strengths and I should stick to mine – whatever they were.  I let those people grab the mantle of “Writer” and I never grabbed it for myself.

Where did the feeling of pride that I felt as a 14 year old go?  Where did that confidence go?  What stops me now?

Part of it is the fact that in my mind it seemed egotistical to think of myself as writer because the writers I admire are so talented.  How dare I think of myself in the same category as them?  Part of it is that as long as I don’t write, I don’t have to face the fact that I might not be able to do this, that it might be a dream I have to give up.  As long as my thoughts aren’t down on paper, what I have to write is still good in my head.

A huge part of what stops me is that because of my job, I’ve been eviscerated on the internet several times over the last ten years and it’s not something I want to open myself up to again.  It’s a horrible thing to live through – to be lied about and be the target of mean girl games played out in a public sphere.  I don’t have a thick skin and I don’t want to have a thick skin – being sensitive is a big part of what makes me, me.  But I have to find a way to protect myself because I’ve let that burn me out in so many facets of my life.  I’ve let that silence my voice.  I’ve stayed safe.  The most rewarding things in my life have been when I’ve jumped off that cliff.  I built a business off a cliff jump.  Some of my best friends are from jumping off that cliff.  I met the love of my life by doing a big, old belly flop off that cliff and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I’m sick of standing on that cliff wondering what could happen.  I’m sick of not jumping into life with a whole heart.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to share every private detail of my life.  It does mean that I’m going to quit playing it safe all the time.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that a lot of the times, I feel like I’m not talented enough to do this.  And you know what?  Right now, I’m not talented enough but I never will be talented enough unless I force myself to write.  To quote Anne Lamott, I have a lot of shitty first drafts in me and I need to get them out.  Because it’s only writing those shitty first drafts that are going to lead me to anything else – whatever that might be.

Part of the reason I changed my blog name from TNLocavore.com to MouthFromTheSouth.com is that I wanted to write about more than just food.  I love food blogging, I really do.  But doing a recipe post takes a lot of time, between testing different recipes, taking pictures, tweaking those pictures and writing it all up.  I don’t post a recipe if I don’t LOVE it and there are times when I just don’t have the time to keep trying recipe after recipe, looking for the one I want to share.  I also feel like there’s so much more going on in my life than just food.  I love to cook but I don’t live to cook.  There’s so much more to me.  I want to share stories about the house we’re renovating.  I want to share stories about my life and the craziness that seems to often be a part of it.  I want to make you vomit because I’m sharing yet another dumb story about our cats.  I want to bore you all with talk about my incendiary love affair with heirloom tomatoes.  I want to ask for advice and hear your stories.  I want to share and hear all of this stuff even if it doesn’t have anything to do with food.  Don’t get me wrong – I have a passion for food so I’ll still be writing about it regularly.  But I want to share my other passions with you as well and hear about yours.

In the end, it really comes down to one thing, writers write.  And I’m writing. So I am a writer.

32 Comments on I am a writer

  1. Jana
    February 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Yes you are!

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Jana!

      Reply
  2. Candace
    February 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm (4 years ago)

    One of the reasons I like your blog so much is because I feel like you write from the heart and you seem real to me. That’s why I enjoy your writing. You’ve been a writer for a long time in my eyes.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Candace – that means a lot to me. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Beth
    February 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm (4 years ago)

    Bravo! That just made my heart beat faster. I felt so much of myself in what you just said– you don’t even know! Write, write, write and I will be here reading every last word of it :-)

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm (4 years ago)

      Beth – thank you so much. You know that I’ll be there reading every last word you write as well!

      Reply
  4. Amy
    February 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm (4 years ago)

    Bravo.

    *claps*

    Keep going.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm (4 years ago)

      I’m working on it but man it’s hard sometimes. Thanks for the push girl!

      Reply
  5. Lelo
    February 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm (4 years ago)

    Love. I hear you, I’ve been there. You go girl.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank hun!

      Reply
  6. The Modern Gal
    February 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm (4 years ago)

    Go to this blog post and watch the attached video … It’s kind of along the same lines as that Anne Lamont quote: http://makingitlovely.com/2011/01/13/on-persistence/

    I don’t know if this will help, but I get paid to be a writer and I still have some of the same insecurities. I don’t worry too much about the 500-900 word stories I churn out for publications, but what I really want to do is write a novel. What is holding me back? Exactly what you’ve described. If I write a novel, I want it to be published and well-received. I also know how much rejection is involved in trying to get published, and I don’t want to deal with that. I think like Anne Lamont and Ira Glass are trying to tell us, we just need to power through and accept that it will take us time to hone our craft and develop our voice, but with practice we can be respected writers.

    All of that said, I very much want to hear about your house and your cats and your life! I actually thought you did live to cook, and the house thing was a side project :) I was giggling at your coffee shop tweets today. (P.S. One of these days I’m going to make it to the neighborhood potluck and meet you in person)

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm (4 years ago)

      I just finished watching that video and – Wow. I love the message he was trying to get across. I just hope it won’t take me 8+ years to get there. Isn’t it awful the obstacles we put in front of ourselves.

      PS – We have a potluck this Monday about our new community garden. I’ll be there. ;)

      Reply
  7. Amy | She Wears Many Hats
    February 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm (4 years ago)

    YEA! Love that you put that down for all of us…

    “Caught up in the way other people defined me.” <<<<How many of us do that? Me, for one.

    Keep on truckin'! Can't wait to hear about your cats, and the tomatoes too.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Amy. I think a lot of us are sick of being defined by other people, yet so many of us make a habit out of it.

      Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks lady! It was so nice to see you again in person!

      Reply
  8. Joy
    February 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm (4 years ago)

    I wish I could hug you right now. Are you sh*tting me? I always thought of you as a brilliant writer. You write so effortlessly and I heard your voice before I even met you (and I wish everyone could, because you are awesome like that). You are writer. And I’m glad you’re finally owning up to what we’ve known. :-) xoxo.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh Joy – you are just made of awesome, kickass & pixie dust. I’m so glad we became friends. Wish I could give you a huge hug right now.

      Reply
  9. Marisa
    February 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh Kristina, I know this struggle so, so well. I have a masters degree in writing and have been doing it both full time and freelance for the last 3+ years and I still sometimes feel like I have to hedge or add caveats when I tell people that I’m a writer. That said, I truly know you can do it and that you will get comfortable wearing the word and the work of it.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm (4 years ago)

      Marisa – I hate that you experience this same struggle but it helps me to know you deal with this too. Thanks for that and thank you for letting me know you think I can do this. That means a lot to me.

      Reply
  10. Darlynne
    February 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm (4 years ago)

    You are a writer and your anniversary post showed that so clearly. I can’t promise to vomit about the cat stories or anything else, but I truly look forward to reading your words.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much Darlynne!

      Reply
    • Kristina
      February 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Becky!

      Reply
  11. Merry
    February 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm (4 years ago)

    I soooo get what you are saying. I felt the exact same way when I finally started calling myself an artist. It’s not conceit, just a description. And, it fits me.
    I’m new to your world but I believe writer describes what I have seen.
    I look forward to reading more!

    Reply
  12. Laura
    February 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm (4 years ago)

    I was at a party over xmas, and this woman had just been introduced to me. The host mentioned my blog and that I was a great cook. She said, “So you are a food writer?” I actually corrected her and said no I’m a stay at home mom! How dumb is that? I then rather patheticly said well I guess I’m kinda a food writer. Sheesh! Much like you I spent my whole youth wanting to be a writer. I wrote my first “book” in the 4th grade! But then real life came along and I could never think of anything to write about. Blogging saved my life in this regard–and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, sticking myself out there for the world to critique.

    Great post.

    Reply
  13. Debbie
    December 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm (2 years ago)

    Beautifully written.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      December 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you – it’s something I struggle with every day. I fall, try to get back, sometimes succeed and then try to go on writing.

      Reply
  14. Kavey
    December 28, 2012 at 4:16 am (2 years ago)

    Came by after reading your humour-filled (but spot on) post on BlogHer and followed the links in your howdy post. Just by reading that article and this post, I can say, HELL YES, you definitely are a writer. Am so looking forward to reading more.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      December 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm (2 years ago)

      Kavey – you have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you so much.

      Reply

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on I am a writer

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joy, Kristina McLean. Kristina McLean said: New blog post: I am a writer – http://bit.ly/gAW2bZ [...]

  2. [...] Buttermilk Chess Pie & Celebrating National Pi Day with John Boehner & the Pentaverate I am a writer Facing the cruelty behind my [...]

Leave a Reply