Yes. Yes, I do. As a writer, I can tell you that it truly takes a very long time to believe it enough to actually say these words, “I am a writer.” They are definitely not easy words to say. As writers, we tend to say things like “I am writing” or “I write,” but to finally say “I am a writer,” let’s face it- it is incredibly difficult to get those words to cross our lips – especially the first time saying it. Why? Why is it so hard to say those four words?
When I began writing, I thought, “Well… I write, but does that make me a writer?” When can I begin to consider myself and more importantly (I thought) when will others perceive me as “a writer?” Is it when I have finished writing a novel or have completed a children’s book? Is it when I am a published author? Is it when I have done my first interview about something I have written? At what point can I say, “I am a writer,” and actually believe it? Especially prior to publishing, I felt like a fraud. What proof did I have that I was a writer? I had nothing to show for my hours in front of the computer. My name was not in the Library of Congress. Not a whole lot came up when I googled my name. I had no book with my name on it. And I sure wasn’t getting any kind of income from my “so called writing.” How in the world could I even suggest that I was, “a writer” when I had no proof. It sounded absurd to call myself a writer and for a very long time, I didn’t. Couldn’t do it! No way, no how, not going to happen.
Well… then I thought. I bake all of the time and I am not afraid to call myself a baker. I read all of the time and I am not afraid to call myself a reader. I’ve run a half marathon and numerous five and ten mile races and I am not afraid to call myself a runner. So I looked more deeply. I thought back to some important influences in my writing life. How can these influences push me to believe that, “I am a writer” and be confident in saying it?
I begin with Natalie Goldberg, and her book, Writing Down to the Bones, an oldie but goodie in my eyes. This book is full of short lessons about writing and it seems the more I write, the more I pick it up and refer to it. So as I question calling myself, “a writer,” I turn to her chapter, Claim Your Writing. Goldberg says, “We have trouble connecting with our own confident writing voice that is inside all of us.” Well there you go. I had trouble connecting with my own confident writing voice. When I was writing, without that proof I spoke about, how could I know that what I was writing, was any good? How could I be confident in my writing ability or know for sure that I was good enough to call myself, “a writer?”
This leads me to an instructor I had for a writing course while working towards my master’s degree at Regis University. I write with details, details, details but for the life of me I cannot remember the instructor’s name or the class – memories are funny that way. Said “instructor” explained to us that every single thing you write is interesting to someone. She said that even our grocery lists were interesting in some way to someone – perhaps a family member. We were then given our homework. As much as possible in the following week, we were to say, “I am a writer of interesting things.” This isn’t really as easy as it sounds but… I am a rule follower so I did what I was told – only a few times but it felt weird to call myself, “a writer.” The rest of the semester our homework was even harder. When meeting anyone new or answering the question regarding what we do for a living, we were to answer, “I am a writer of interesting things.” Well again, I am a rule follower so I did my homework. Although, I could not bring myself to say, “I am a writer of interesting things,” I did begin to say, “I am a writer.” The more you say it, the easier it is to say and the more you believe it.
Today, I can honestly, without feeling like a fraud, say that, “I am a writer,” and it is not because my name is in the Library of Congress, or that my name actually shows up when I google myself, or that my name is on two books as the author. “I am a writer,” because I believe it and it doesn’t matter to me whether you or anyone else believes it. My writing may not speak to everyone, but it speaks to someone. “I am a writer!”
2 responses to “Who Do You Think You Are – A Writer?”
Hi Kathy! Just wanted to let you know that you’re “Who do you think you are..” post was incredibly inspirational. I’m a budding writer and DO feel that lack of confidence when I think about it… but, now, I’ll give myself a homework assignment and say it proud! Thanks!
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am happy to hear that you are pushing yourself to feel proud of your writing ability. I know first hand what that feels like and honestly, I am pretty sure most authors feel like a fraud in the beginning. You are “a writer” as soon as you say it and believe it!