I was recently asked by a family friend who only just figured out that I’ve actually published work, “So, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?”
I was feeling somewhat churlish and Cheshire Cat-esque that day, so my answer was a bit snarky. “When did you first know you wanted to be alive, to breathe, to speak aloud to another human being?”
In response to their gape-mouthed silence, I nodded and took my leave. Writing isn’t something I chose to do, even in the way that a person drawn to taking apart and building machines might go to school to be an engineer. It’s something that simply happened.
I regard my proclivity for language–written, sung, or spoken–a bit like the arrival of self-awareness. It is at once entirely spontaneous and also dependent upon a complex web of events and experiences that precede its advent. For some, it’s a conscious choice. For me, it’s as automatic as breathing.
And while I can do any number of other things, it remains a constant. I think that, whether or not I ever make anything of myself as an author, I will always be a writer. It’s on my care label that I keep tucked inside my skin, along with “Do not taunt HappyFun Ball.” And “Wash on gentle cycle; dry flat.”