Friday Speak Out!: Writer? Me?, Guest Post by Melissa Aiello

Friday, April 08, 2011
Writer? Me?

by Melissa Aiello

“Hello, my name is Melissa and I’m a recovering doubter.”

How I wish for a 12 step program to treat the disease of doubt. Wouldn’t it be grand to have a support group for wayward souls who fight tooth and nail to avoid using “writer” when describing themselves, simply because they lack confidence? They being me.

“I can’t believe you don’t think you’re a writer” said a friend recently, with raised eyebrows and pitying look that screams, “Seriously, how could you STILL doubt yourself. You are driving your friends crazy!”

Easy, because I don’t see myself reflected in what I read: blog pages filled with witty, SMART prose and novelist’s who string words into characters that walk, talk, breathe AND follow a plot! It’s magic to me and I feel incapable of that sort of conjuring. The real clincher is I don’t even know if I WANT to do it. I haven’t nursed a passion to write since I was a child. I have not dreamt of being a novelist, journalist or poet. Doesn’t that revelation have “YOU ARE NOT A WRITER” written all over it?

Yet, words form armies in my head that pummel away at my brain until I put them on paper. If I can’t write an idea down right away, it runs the risk of being lost forever--mainly because recent thyroid surgery has left my brain frustratingly fuzzy. And those lost ideas make me sad, because I wanted them to live.

My ultimate underlying issue is fear. Having family and friends tell me what a good writer I am is not enough, in my world view, to pursue it. It is not enough to stick my toes outside my comfort zone and test the waters – there might be sharks in there, ya know! My huge admiration for real writers prevents me from trying to be like them--I don’t feel worthy.

And now here I am, laying myself out for public display. Encouraged by past Speak Out posts I am hoping my ‘dream’ and ‘passion’ will finally reveal themselves to me. Will it be academic writing or travel? Should I explore journalism or try to resurrect my dormant blog? The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are still unclear. What I do know is that writing flash fiction stories helps me heal and keeps me moving forward.

Perhaps I do have that support group I mentioned earlier and maybe I should listen to them more--those friends of mine. Whether I am able to discover the courage to call myself a writer, or not, I will start by saying the word out loud to the other me that I see in the mirror each morning. It’s a start.

* * *

Melissa Aiello is a full time Queen of her Casa, 40-something college student and community volunteer living in San Jose, CA. In between juggling husband, kids and forcing her fuzzy brain to recover from a thyroidectomy she is hoping to discover whether “writer” is a hat she is worthy of wearing. Visit her blog at

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!




bigred909 said...

I know exactly where you are coming from. I didn't think I could call myself a writer unless I possessed an MFA or till I had something published. When I finally mustered the courage to say the words the first time I wasn't prepared to answer the ensuing questions and self doubt made me run and hide for several more years. Now, even though I am still unpublished, I proudly answer that I am a writer when people ask me what I do because it defines who I am and what I hope to become. Great post! You are a writer!!!

Stephsco said...

I have a lot of doubts as well. I recently read on an experienced editor's blog a comment about how all new writers doubt themselves. She pointed out that writing is a craft that takes time, and the small victories build confidence. She made it seem like a developmental stage that we will (hopefully) grow out of. Maybe we can embrace that we have doubts, but work toward moving past them. :)

alienbody said...

Thank you for the comments! It feels great to identify with others and know that I'm not alone!!

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