What does it mean to be a writer?

Aissa Gallie, one of LS13′s twenty contributors, shares the influences and inspirations that led her to writing.

What does it mean to be a writer? This question I have mulled over for many years in my head,  because I have been what could be termed, ‘a closet writer’. I have been a writer who either writes in secret or just wishes that they did.

For me writing words down in a creative way has been an emotionally challenging activity. I am not alone in this, I know it. As my years have gone by, I have picked up many other ‘closet writers’. I sniff them out, or they sniff me out. And whatever our history, or background, we all have one glaring similarity. We are all concerned that we are ‘not good enough’.

When I was a child, I was in all the school plays, sung in choirs and was certain that I would one day be a writer and a film director. But somewhere along the line, my dreams for myself got lost, scattered by the challenges of youth and education. I found myself wandering quite a different path, training in health care, working in restaurants and having lots and lots of fun with friends, but none of it very creative.

Leeds writer Aissa Gallie with her copy of the LS13 anthology

Leeds writer Aissa Gallie with her copy of the LS13 anthology

About 8 years ago, following a tragic bereavement, I suddenly got the urge to sing. My singing was much like my writing, done in secret or not at all. But at this time a friend of mine supported me, and with encouragement and practice (and rather a lot of gin), I plucked up the courage to sing in front of an audience. And the relief that I felt was immense. My motive for singing was to share an emotion, and in doing so I realised that it wasn’t about who or what I sounded like, it was only important that I sounded like me.

I entered the LS13 competition alongside a couple of my friends. We buoyed each other along until we had our pieces ready to submit. Once they were sent in a weight lifted. For me, that had been my aim, just to enter. When one of my pieces was chosen, I was shocked, thrilled, in disbelief. The piece that was chosen, I kind of entered by accident. It was originally intended as a piece of film, but I called it a flash fiction (having very recently discovered the genre) and in it went.

The LS13 anthology has within its pages some incredibly accomplished writers, with incredible talent. It also has people in it like me, writers just out of the closet. Who knew that I would find myself published, right here, in my home town? I didn’t have to travel to London or Oxford or Cambridge or anywhere else that I had believed you had to go to be a writer. I had only to travel through my fear to the letters on my keyboard; with a little help from my friends of course. So what does this mean? For any ‘closet writers’ reading this it means this: seek company, join hands, give it a go. It doesn’t matter what you write, it only matters that you write! Gather up your scattered dreams Loiners, rock your words!

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