I’ve been wrestling (maybe not the right word, but let’s go with it) with my identity as a writer.
I know, weird, right?
I spend time putting words on paper, I push the Publish button a few times a week, I write paper and reflections for school. And yet, there’s a part of me that still struggles with the label of Writer. “Hello, my name is Stephanie and I’m a writer.” Doesn’t really flow off my tongue as easily as, say, “I’m Stephanie and I’m a student.” Or, “I’m Stephanie and I am the proud mama of four guinea pigs.” And yet, writing has been a part of my life for much longer than either of those two things. (Although school does give it a run for its money.) I more often say things like, I practice writing, I like to write, or I write. But to attribute writing as a descriptor to who I am? It happens less frequently than I sometimes like to admit, given how important writing is.
So, what is it about the title of writer? What does being a writer mean? I mean, when I mention that I write (or try to embrace writer), everyone’s first question, “What do you write?” Ummm… that’s never been an easy one to answer, as I haven’t published anything (except blog posts), what I write isn’t neatly categorical, and as I mentioned a while back ago to a writer friend, fiction’s not my strong suit. I was having this conversation with M. Fenn yesterday after our writing date and even with her, a really good friend of mine who’s been reading along with my crazy adventures since mid-2005 and with whom I’ve been having weekly writing dates for awhile, it’s interesting to think about.
What does it “take” to be a writer? Does a writer have to publish? Does a writer have to have a by-line? Does someone need to want to get her/his stuff out there to be a writer?
What stories am I telling myself about what it means to be a writer?
As is often the case, I have no answers, but asking the questions feels really powerful.
How about you? Are there labels you don’t actively claim? What stories do you tell yourself about them?
And, if you’re a writer, do you claim the label? Why or why not? If you do, what was the turning point for you?