For the first time, I finally told another living human that I’m a writer. To explain, I mean that I said those three words with full confidence and without any explanation about how I used to do ‘real’ business work and that I’m engaged in various other studies, projects, and endeavors. For the first time in my life, I said, “I’m a writer,” and I didn’t drop my eyes, or mumble about how I’m ‘aspiring,’ or quickly change the topic of conversation.
Imagine all the times in your life you said, “I love you” to someone, and
though the intent was there, the expression was more perfunctory, more socially
or familially-expected. But then remember the first time you voiced those
words, and you meant it more than anything else, when the emotion poured from
your heart in flushing sincerity...
My experience wasn’t quite on that level, but close enough that I still felt
like soaring away on wings of beatitude.
The consequential moment occurred this past Saturday, June 7, 2014. I was part
of an ecological survey on bats, travelling between Palm Springs and the Salton
Sea. It was early night, and I walked with a small group of strangers through a
palm oasis in the desert, reading echo meters. One of the other men, as natural
small talk develops, asked what I did for a living.
I said, “I’m a writer.”
His response was, “Wow, that’s really cool.”
And, yes, cool it was indeed. It was an occasion of self-validation, a flash of
empowerment. I said those words and didn’t feel like a duplicitous charlatan,
or that a bolt of lightning would strike for my false tongue. I’ve only been
writing since about February, 2011 (three years, four months, but who’s
counting?) and, though I’ve wanted it, could never honestly make that assertion
with any degree of conviction. But the circumstance occasioned itself and I met
it with courage and pluck, and now feel I have certain expectations to fulfill,
less I’ll be discovered to be that fibber after all.
And, to qualify my trinal-worded declaration, I don’t make a living off
fiction, but rather a combination of contract work in technical writing, copy
writing, and now teaching writing (though each year I’ve made ever-increasing
amounts of money off creative works... not that any of those are worth enough
to buy a fancy coat, though the checks are on the upswing – but I digress).
Some people may write a single story and declare to the world that they’re a
writer, but I’ve not felt truth in that in my own experience. It’s a personal
moment each person must discover, in any pursuit, and now I’ve had mine. Being
a contract writer, I don’t know where my next ‘gig’ will come from, or that
I’ll be able to survive lulls in employment. But I’ve been able to muddle along
these past few years and I now have work set through next spring, so I finally
found it time to proclaim to another those sweet three words:
I’m a writer.
Eric J. Guignard
Eric J. Guignard writes dark and
speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s
published the anthologies, Dark Tales of
Lost Civilizations and After Death…,
the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for
the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more
forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo
(TBP 2016). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com,
his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com,
or Twitter: @ericjguignard.