As a writer, I love words. I believe in words. They open us up, shake out our souls, draw us together, and sometimes, pull us apart. They are the most fundamental brick of history, a timeless capsule, a message in a bottle we’ve been launching for the greater whole of human existence. I have always found it strange to self-identify as a “writer.” In my experience, when you tell people “I am a writer,” they look at you as though you’ve just announced you are leaving the priesthood to track narwhals for the remainder of your life.

It’s even more bizarre when it is the others who identify you as such.

“I’ve been doing this since first grade,” I want to tell them. “I won a handwriting contest in 6th grade. You won’t believe what I can do with a steamy bathroom mirror or a grocery list.” (But that would be a bit snotty, I realize.)

Sometimes I cannot tell whether I am the happiest girl to ever pick up a pen or if I rue the day ink was born. Nobody tells you what this world is really like. (Though I suppose I could have guessed had I paid more attention to the bottle-bottom wisdom of Hemingway and Bukowski in the latter parts of their lives.)

Writers live in a suspended state of voluntary solitude, surrounded but alone. We speak to everyone and no one. The feelings, the thoughts, the experiences are our own, but we forget ahead, flinging them into outer space and onto the page in the hopes of finding something marvelous waiting for us on the end of the line. We yell into the abyss to await the echo. We offer up the best parts of ourselves to strangers and acquaintances like yearbook signatures and casual Christmas cards.People come and go, taking a piece of us with them.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts,” Hemingway once said. Never one for the rules, I opted to write hard and clear about what I know. I wrote about the secret lives of neon lights, the smell of summer, the first person to add chili powder to chocolate ice cream. I wrote about country drives, bouquets of wooden spoons and a master plan to stop the weeping willows from weeping, never realizing that all the while I was writing the story of saudade.

I read your book today, cover to cover.

Maybe the road trip takers and fragile, fearless souls aren’t so different after all.


This post was originally shared on Medium