When I met with Lauren Kirshner for our first editing exchange at the red-brick Starbucks at the corner of College and Dovercourt—just down the street from where I live—it was the first time I felt secure within a community of writers. Meeting her was amazing to me. I didn’t feel as apart from her as I had expected. She made me feel assured that the single best way to understand myself was as a writer, and I understood myself with an unseen connection to her, and all other writers. Deep down to my bones, I know I have an impetus to write and because Lauren also understood that, by reading my story and knowing what it is to be a writer, she was able to guess things about myself that my close friends couldn’t have.
Now we are in the midst of the editing process for my story, ‘Mermaid Diaries.’ She gave me a copy of her novel Where We Have to Go on our first meeting and signed the inside cover with “Here’s to Mermaid Girls!” I think my sense of affinity wasn’t just my own imagination. It really did feel like we both understood the peculiar life that makes us unable to stop ourselves from writing as children, and continues on even as we grow older and older—always observing life around us, which sparks an idea in us that leads to a narrative of pages and words. I’ve always written but for years looked at it as just a compulsion, and didn’t think any of it was very good.
I jotted down bits and pieces that made up my story over two years that I ended up submitting to Diaspora Dialogues last year. I’d never submitted anything before. I was astonished when I heard back from them and that they wanted to pair me up with an established writer to edit my work. I suppose I’d felt like an outsider to the world of writers, but now I think that regardless of whether I’m ever published, there’s something inside me that is a ‘writer’ through and through. Working with Lauren has really affirmed my identity as a writer and an artist, and shown me how to use this confidence to hone my writing as a craft. Not to be shy of the scatter-brained impulses of a writer, but capture any fleeting nuggets of inspiration when I can and let it become something greater.