One of my favorite opening lines to a novel comes from the goddess Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star.
“Everything in the world began with a yes.”
Clarice’s wisdom is so simple: the world began with a yes. The beginning of everything was an agreement that it was okay to begin. It was okay to do what needed to be done. How simple is that? 
So, how come we keep saying no to ourselves, especially when it comes to writing?
We convince ourselves we will finally write when we have more time, after the chores are done, after children, after work, after, after, after. And though that’s technically not a no it’s definitely not a yes. 
But I’m getting ahead of myself, which is something I’m glad to say Clarice and I have in common. So, let me start at the beginning, go through the middle, and get to the end. 
When was the first time you said you were a writer and meant it? 
For me, it happened in Wichita, KS at an airport-themed bar, complete with model planes dangling from the ceiling and seats in their upright and locked positions. I was writing my first novel (which is so horrible I’m nearly ashamed to admit I wrote it) and I was getting close to finishing it. I was at the bar with a group of friends when one of them handed me a Miller and said, “For my friend, the writer.”
I was floored. After years of being a newspaper journalist, I was used to being called a reporter, a journalist, a newspaper woman, and even some not nice names that I won’t repeat without a couple of glasses of wine in my system. But never was I called a writer. My friend believed in me enough to call me the title I so wanted and was working toward. Writer. I was a writer. He believed so I believed.  
That was my “yes”. That’s when I gave myself permission to be a writer, to be exactly who I was. I was not my job, I something beyond deadlines and inverted pyramids and for the first time it was okay to exist in that space. 
That leads me to my next question (just like a reporter): Who do you think you are?  Really, who do you think you are?
As a writer, that’s probably the most important question you’ll need to ask yourself.  As a person, it’s the hardest one to answer. 
There was a time in my life when I didn’t know the answer. I was 30 years-old when I asked myself that question. I couldn’t answer it. I had lived myself into a corner and did everything as I should have because other people told me to do it. I lived this life because I was told that’s what I should want, not because it was something I wanted for myself.  By doing that, living that way, I said “no” to myself though I didn’t know I was doing it. 
That was how my path toward a “yes” started, how my friend began to call me a writer, how I finished that awful book, how I finished another one that wasn’t as awful, and how I stopped saying “no” to myself. 
See, the more you say “no” the longer it will take for things to begin. While you may think you aren’t saying “no”, you forget that word takes on many forms: when I’m done with this project, when work is less hectic, when I have more money, when I have more time, when I buy this or that. All of these excuses are delays, not beginnings. 
“Yes” is a verb. You have to do it. It is an action. Do you know who you are? Are you a writer? Then be a writer! Writers write. They wake up early or stay up late. They read. They write some more. They submit. They get rejected and they do it all again. This is what writers do. Writers don’t wait to be writers, they ARE writers.  They say “yes” to themselves. That’s how their world begins. 
There’s this saying: It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to. I disagree. It’s not about what people call you, it’s what you call yourself. 
The world began with a yes so stop telling yourself no. 
  
Icess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, journalist and recent graduate of the MFA program at Goddard College in fiction. Her work has appeared in USAToday and UrbanLatino Magazine. She’s also the former co-editor of ChicksOnTv.com. Her latest fiction piece, “Beginnings” appeared in September in Minvera Rising, a literary journal. Her blog(Writing to Insanity) is about what inspires her, her writer’s soul, and her writing journey–the highs to the lows and every period, comma, and fragment in between.
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