Am I a Writer?
I envy people who can go to sleep by midnight. Who can get under their warm covers and feel their skin touch the smooth surface of their sheets and know that soon they will drift off to a night of dreams, leaving their questions or compulsive thoughts for the next day. I envy them because I simply cannot follow such a routine. I cannot afford the luxury of thinking about dreams when my thoughts are still circling this reality, waiting to be seen, heard, solved, or anything in between. Maybe I am an insomniac, maybe there is an underlying formality here that should be discussed further, but maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s because I tend to ask the right questions at the wrong time.
Am I a writer?
It’s exactly 1:34 a.m., and I’m sitting on my cream-colored chaise, laptop in hand, thinking about how I should probably go to sleep, climb under the covers of my bed, and call it a night, call it what it is: bedtime. But I cannot. How can I? How can I close my eyes when I just asked myself such a provocative question? A question I know will inhabit my skin and body and leave marks in its wake if left unanswered. I can already feel it begging for attention.
Am I a writer?
I’m pretty sure I’m trying to have a revelation. A eureka moment of sorts, a moment between me and these words spitting out of my brain. And when I say spitting, I genuinely mean words bombarding me, no invitations needed, to get show time at this hour. Lights, Cameras, Action! My brain takes the lead, knowing it’s late, knowing I have to wake up early, but it keeps spitting all over this place with words, with NO SHAME. It’s keeping me awake. It’s keeping me here, in this moment, to devour my passion and find out if such passion is true. It’s testing me, you see. Because the time keeps ticking, and I keep writing. It’s 1:46 a.m. I crane my neck, side to side, ending on the right where I see books, big and small, piled on top of each other like towers, my own little library with names and titles that tell a story.
Am I a writer?
Yes, yes. I want to scream YES! Am I published? No, no, maybe I’m not a writer. Maybe I’m just someone who likes to write. I really hope not. That would be war. Not for the world, for me. It would be dangerous, like a warzone, the unspeakable trenches—wretched smells, tight spaces, climbing over bodies to reach the front lines of an enemy you could not see, only feel. My doubt, my indecisive thoughts, trespassing through the coils of my brain. I would go to war to be a writer. Flat feet be damned, I’ll run on shards, blood trails in my wake. Ignore it. I’ll learn to ignore it. My physical state won’t matter if my mental state is shattered. The metaphysical, is that what writing is about? It’s 2:02 a.m., and I might be getting closer. My nostrils open, my chest heavy, and my breaths uneven. Perfect. It’s getting exciting.
Was I a writer when I danced with strangers on Friday nights, moving my sweaty body against theirs, connecting with them through liquid courage and a drive to feel something exciting, with a fake ID I purchased with a group of friends, half of whom I don’t even speak to anymore? I wonder where they are right now, if they’re doing fine, if they’re listening to their cravings, desires, their—Stop, don’t get sidetracked. Words. Think about words. Was I a writer when I changed my major in college from Biology to Psychology, subconsciously knowing I was fulfilling a journey that wasn’t mine, that didn’t speak to me in the night? Was I a writer when I jumped in the pool with my clothes on, a chill coursing through my body with wet fabric claiming me in all the areas it should, all the while hoping my friends would follow? Soon, hear the desperate plea in my mind: jump in! They did. Of course, they did, creating a core memory, a feeling inside that pulled at my chest, telling me this was what happiness was supposed to feel like. Was I a writer when my grandmother passed? The year 2020, the peak of the pandemic that changed lives, my life, as I couldn’t say my goodbyes to a second mother of mine at the hospital crowded with loved ones—a heartbreak that stopped my writing for more than a year. It’s 2:14 a.m. It’s 2:17 a.m. I needed three minutes for myself. But I’m back at this paper, spitting words. Was I a writer in those three minutes I spent not writing? Perhaps time and moments and people and losses and gains have nothing to do with me being a writer.
But what if I’m wrong? What if it all has to do with me being a writer? Did I just call myself a writer? Well, that was effortless, anticlimactic, almost uncomfortable, really. It’s 2:22 a.m., and that was unexpected. I’m still uncertain, so I’ll let that slip-up pass. My lower back is pounding as I try to readjust my posture, trying to keep my shoulders from slouching so far down; as I give them one exaggerated roll. Back to the basics.
Am I a writer?
I like how I feel when I write. I like how, when I write, it’s usually at night—underneath the layers of a blanket in my room, keeping my bottom half warm while my arms and nose freeze with the air vent hitting directly on me. I like how my fingertips feel against the smooth surface of this keyboard, material that I don’t even know the name of because I crave words to pierce in me, almost violently, repeatedly, to prove to me that I’m an artist. An artist with words, thoughts, and emotions that are sometimes too strong for one person to bear alone. So, I do what I must. I write.
I write to feel and to forget, to escape and to search, to love and to hate, to write and to write and to write and to write, all night. Because that’s when I feel like me. ME. My late-night routine. It’s 2:36 a.m., my eyesight narrows, blinking faster than before, and I am still writing because when I write, I want to believe that I am a writer. That this isn’t just some one-night stand you won’t call back, no matter how charming and good the sex was. I want a forever thing with this passion of mine. I want more. I want a life that will inspire me to connect with words told from the deepest parts of myself when I want to feel something, just as powerful as dancing with strangers. I want a life that allows me to make decisions that will end with me not feeling like a liar, like someone I want to be, the girl following her dreams. I want a life where I can replicate the happiness I felt as I jumped in the pool with my friends. I want a life that will always make me feel like me, even if I stop doing what I love for three minutes or even a year.
I want a promise.
I want a promise that no matter what I am doing in a given moment, I will always, undoubtedly, indisputably, still be a writer. That is when I let my brain turn into liquid and allow for words to take agency on a page in front of me and let it flood. Let it become this beautiful disaster, this natural disaster that will let me drown in the deep end and keep me there, that I will not swim to the shallow end. That I will not have the longing for rescue to take me back to shore. I refuse to strip pieces of myself to then have my writing be empty. No, I want it to be more. I want my vulnerability to become my strength. I want my openness to reveal a story. I want my candor to speak volumes. I want my words to inspire, but most importantly, it’s 3:05 a.m., and there’s always next night to explore.
This writer needs her sleep.
Sanaz Tamjidi is a passionate storyteller who embraces the moments that make her feel most alive while discovering the pleasures in life. In 2021, she received her BA in Psychology from UCLA and is currently an MFA candidate in Fiction at Antioch University Los Angeles. She lives in Los Angeles, where the city continues to inspire her love for writing.