“Are you famous?” A man quickly turned around as we passed each other to address me with this odd question. Chicago was humid that day, but there was a breeze blowing the chilled lake-air through the buildings and alleyways. Hundreds of people had shown up to the Literary Fest that parked itself conveniently near Columbia University and Union Station on Dearborn Street, my friends and I included in the mess of college students, older folk, sellers, authors, illustrators alike. We were all there for one reason: books. The smell of old paper and stale ink ruffled through the air; tents provided shelter and a prominent meeting point for each bookstore, author, or company; and my friends and I were on a mission to spend our summer money on something other than alcohol.
As we shoved ourselves through people, weaving our way through precariously stacked shelves, and witnessing sales go down, I was stopped abruptly by this man.
“Are you famous?” He asked. He was older than me by far, but not one of the elder man there. Glasses perched on his nose, clearly a bookworm, accompanied by another man who seemed just as surprised as me that his friend asked me that.
I smiled, awkwardly, not knowing how to answer. “No, I’m not,” laughter helps hide the awkwardness.
“Well, you have the face for it. What do you do?” I honestly thought that this man was about to try to sell me on modeling for some reason. My friends later confessed they were worried he was hitting on me, luckily I didn’t pick up on that vibe.
For some reason, I responded “I want to be a writer.” That phrase fit into the location and topic of conversation at all of these little vendors tents, so why not drop the ball?
“No.” He said, “No. Do you write 250 words a day?”
“Then you are a writer. You’re not trying to be a writer. You are one. What did Yoda say? You do know who Yoda is right?”
I did not want to confess on the street surrounded by nerds that I had only just seen the Star Wars movies about a month and a half ago, so I laughed it off claiming that of course I know who Yoda is!
“Well what did Yoda say?” Um, a lot of things? “Try? You do not try. You do. Don’t try to be a writer, be a writer.”
And then the Yoda-quoter walked out of my life and I stood there in my circle skirt and pink hair stunned. But he was right, which was the weirdest part of all.
Every time I answer a question similar to: “What do you want to do?” or “What do you do?” I need to stop answering with some half-assed response. God dammit, I am a writer! Hear me roar! Hear the way I viciously type on a keyboard, or watch as I sink my pen deep into the grooves of a sheet of paper, reveling in the feel of ink leaving its small, cylinder prison. I live and breathe words, punctuation marks, books, and loose leaves. I proudly describe in full detail my typewriter I own. I have only just begun to discuss my vampire novel, but by gone, I will tell anyone who wants to hear about it now! I AM A WRITER. Welcome.