Question of Identity: What is a Writer?


Well I write, but I’m not, like, a “writer.”

I was at a wedding reception this summer when I was introduced to someone who said, “so I hear you’re a writer.” Immediately I responded with “oh, no… I mean… no, I have…. a … blog, but I’m not like, no, I’m not a writer.”

Just wait one second. What the eff is a writer? WHO is a writer? What makes a writer a writer? Is it someone that tells you that you are? Is it when you are making money off your words? Is it when you are published by someone else, or is it when you publish yourself? Is it when you have a blog, or is it when you have a book? Is it when some percentage of the hours of your day are spent writing? Is it when you label your dream career as a writer, or is it when your career description is writer? Is it when you unload the river of thoughts into the stream of words into the lake of a formed piece? Or is it when you realize you can’t sit with a still mind until you have done so? Is it when someone likes your last post, or is it when you read the stats on your website? When someone shares it with someone else, or when someone just shares with you that it touched them?

There seems to be a never-ending population of writers, which I became very much aware of since joining the blogging community, specifically since joining wordpress. You could spend more than enough lifetimes reading blogs and books and still not have come even close to reading all of them out there.

But if there are so many writers out there, where are they all? You know, in the real world.  Where are they all, these writers? Shouldn’t they be easy to spot? I’ve read your posts, fellow wordpress bloggers. I know your secret. You’re obsessed. I get it. I am, too. So what’s the deal? Are we hiding the writer in us from the real world, while the online world gets all of our delicious work?

…..

Out there on the journeyfoot, my thoughts and feelings go wild. Things come to me while I’m in that big, bold world that I feel I must remember for later. You could call it the inspiration for my writing. But sometimes it’s hard to remember everything and those thoughts become lost. In the last year, I’ve started carrying a small journal with unlined sheets of blank paper while I am out journeyfooting so that I can jot down ideas that come up. I must admit that sometimes I feel kind of funny pulling the notepad out of my fanny pack on the corner of a street and scribbling away random perceptions. I wait until no one is around before I stop to jot. But why? And why don’t I ever see anyone else standing mid-stride on the side of the street scratching away at paper in order to get every last drop of thought out before it passes?

Perhaps, just maybe, it is a case of identity disorder with a dusting of insecurity. If I don’t consider myself a writer in front of other people, then I don’t have to own up to my abilities as a writer. When I say, “oh no, I’m not a writer,” I’m not saying that because I don’t think I am a one. I am saying that because I am worried the other person won’t think I am. I worry they will judge my writing and come to their own conclusion of what I am and what I am not, and then I will look foolish if our definitions of a writer do not match up. So instead, I hide behind my fear of foolishness and say I’m not a writer. Pathetic!

And if I’m not a writer, then I shouldn’t do writer things, right? I’m not going to join a writing group or go to a workshop because then I run the risk of having to actually show real live people my writing, to which they might scoff. “She thinks SHE can write?” Why, oh why, do I care what someone else thinks about my writing ability?

Very few things have been as much a driving force in my life than writing. No other form of creative expression has been so demanding and necessary in my every day existence for as long as I can remember. Dancing and twirling and sitting and staring, thoughts and feelings mix with one another within the walls of my mind like they’re boys and girls at a school dance. Fresh energy that doesn’t know what to do with itself. And what would happen if that energy had no way of getting out? What would I be if I couldn’t write? It’s so engrained into the very makeup of who I am that I am unsure of what this life would be if I weren’t writing in this life. I would never want to discover that life. I would never want to not be writing. I would never want to not be… a writer.

…..

Who is to say what a writer is or whether or not we are one, but our own selves? I think we don’t label ourselves because we are afraid our definition might not match someone else’s, so instead we wait for someone else to validate who we are. Maybe it is high time we start deciding for ourselves. Just because I don’t get paid for my writing doesn’t mean shit to me. Just because I only have a couple handfuls of people that read my words doesn’t deter me from hitting Publish. That’s not what I write for, and those are not my definitions for “writer.” I know my personal definition. If I’m honest with myself, I know that I fit my definition, so I shouldn’t be afraid to identify myself as a writer, nor tell someone else that I am. So I don’t care anymore. I am a writer. I AM A WRITER! If someone doesn’t agree, it is okay. They can read one of the other billion blogs out there. I personally can recommend some very good ones (scroll to bottom).

I write every single gosh damn day or else I feel my heart will slowly break from the magnitude of energy it holds. I write to release. I write even when I know I can’t write anything. I write. I write. I write. Yah, I’m a freaking writer. And I’ve always been one.

What is your definition of writer, and are you one? If so, when did you finally start identifying as a writer?

…..

A few of my favorite blogs, and the writers behind them:

       Truth and Cake | Rian  Poetically perceptive and refreshingly real.

       Everywhere All The Time | Bani Amor   Worldly, knowledgeable and cool.

       barbonabike | Barb   Adventurous, humorous, random and thought-provoking.

       Writing Through the Fog | Cheri Lucas   Inquisitive, artistic and beautiful. 

       Experimental Happiness | Dawn    Inspiring and down-to-earth.

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