There’s been a lot of change floating around my world lately. In the processing of downsizing to a smaller home with my family, attempting to simplify life, taken on part-time paid work and contributing time to a charity.
I’ve plodded along with my writing for the past couple of years, experiencing some really positive successes, such as publications, paid writing work, editorial work, and competition wins. I’ve also experienced much rejection. If you’re going to put yourself out there in a creative field, you are going to face inevitable rejection. I’ve even got to the stage where I don’t take it personally. Well, mostly.
The loss of some lucrative editorial work I had last year, together with a slowing down of paid reviews, meant I took on more paid part-time work outside of writing, as well as Yoga teaching.
Now, an opportunity has arisen that’s shaken me up a bit. A more involved role with the charity I volunteer for has opened up. It’s something I love. Something I strongly believe in. But my hesitation at jumping straight in is partly tied up with my idea and image of calling myself ‘a writer’. What is one, specifically, and can I still call myself one if I’m dedicating more time to other paid work?
The idea of claiming the term ‘writer’ is a tricky one, I think. Many of my writerly friends will say they can’t even begin to call themselves that title unless they are earning a living from their writing. Yet, if you are writing, and especially submitting work, doesn’t that qualify? Does it only count if you’re published; and does online count, or just print? Or does it depend on whether you’ve been paid for your efforts?
If you don’t need to do another paid ‘day job’ in addition to writing, or you are on the bestseller lists, then it’s pretty cut and dried. But as with many things in life, there are lots of grey areas.
The dictionary definition of a writer includes many variations, including: “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, especially as an occupation; a clerk or scribe; a person who commits his or her thoughts and ideas to writing”.
So in this respect, perhaps it’s time to let go of the pretensions and hang-ups over who can and who can’t say they are a writer.
If you: blog, write letters, journal, act as scribe, apply for grants, scribble poems, submit flash fiction, write reviews, write essays, publish online content, publish in print, or are working on the next bestseller: you are committing your thoughts and ideas to writing.
You Write. You are a Writer. Own it.