The other day I was discussing my recent post about writing volume with a friend, and she idly commented “of course you’re writing, you’re a writer!” I backpedaled and brushed off her comment, because in my mind there is a big difference between doing something and being something.
This kind of black-and-white thinking has come up in my blog before, and I suppose it really speaks to how much the drive to categorize things really pervades my overall worldview. I suppose the question becomes under what conditions does what someone does become a defining characteristic of that person?
From my experience, the difference between someone who acts and a professional actor is the latter 1) gets paid to act, and 2) constantly or frequently seeks out more opportunities to do so. It is almost impossible to make a living just by acting, so everyone has a side or “main” job, but when they think of themselves professionally, “actor” tops the list. I assume similar statements can be made about many of the arts – someone who paints has a hobby, while a painter sees it as a job and career.
Does that mean that what someone is becomes a self-determined construct? Or is it rather a social, societal determination? It would be difficult to say that people whose books sit in libraries aren’t authors, but maybe that was just a small side exertion or short period of an otherwise very diverse life. I suppose it’s easy or commonplace to label others on what we see of them, and label ourselves on what we see in ourselves.
In others we often see the good or bad, at least in a relative sense, based on our own scales. For my part, when I look at myself I largely see the negative. That outlook has stained or at least shaded most every interaction and circumstance in my life, and while I’m cognizant of it happening, the emotional impact is still very real.
In that regard, I don’t consider myself a writer. I am someone who writes, and who has written, but I’m not “a writer,” in whatever nebulous sense. I am often someone who leads, whether in the business world or in social situations, but I stop short of calling myself “a leader” – no matter how much I may want to be one.
Looking at the volume of writing I’ve produced, and hopefully will continue to produce, I don’t know when or if it will ever be enough to consider myself a writer, no matter what others think or tell me.
Is it a function of readership? Of feedback? Of amount of time I spend doing it? Of raw volume? I don’t know. I’m always striving to meet some impossible, undefined goal, and no successes seem to fulfill that drive to feel respected or accomplished.
For now I consider myself someone who writes, and writes a lot, but not a writer. Maybe some day that will change, maybe it won’t, but all in all I’m very glad to have re-found this creative outlet and to have the support of friends and family who want to see me succeed in this endeavor.
Thank you all.