Monday, January 16, 2017

My Writing Identity

How I Embraced Myself as Writer

For over 6 years, I've identified myself as a writer.
I've been writing for over 16 years of my life. 
(For reference, I'm currently 24. I've been writing since I was 8.)

There's a 10 year disconnect there were I was writing almost everyday, but I didn't identify myself as a writer and that disconnect is the subject of today's discussion.

To tell the truth, I never felt qualified to call myself a writer because I never felt confident in my writing. I thought that I needed to be verified by my peers, and by a wider general public, to call myself a writer. I also thought I had not received that verification already.

From elementary school and beyond, I loved writing poetry. I also discovered fanfiction at about the same time and that gave me a venue for exploring writing and sharing my writing online.

I published fanfiction online, never much, never over 1,000 words, but always with great response from reviewers (not many, but always supportive).

The fact that it was fanfiction made me feel that my writing wasn't enough to make me a writer.

I wrote poetry and short stories for school and shared some that I wrote for fun with my friends and family. Again, I got really supportive responses from everyone I shared with, even people who I felt didn't really like me as a person liked my writing.

But I was just sharing it with a few people every time and that didn't feel like enough to make me a writer.

Then I went to college and my perspective shifted (in more ways than could ever be addressed in 1 post or even 100 posts)

I had to go to office hours with my professors, and one in particular commented on my writing style - he asked why I wasn't aiming to go for an MFA in Writing when I was so clearly a passionate writer.

I can never express how such a simple question changed my perspective and altered my course in life.

No, I didn't ultimately go for that MFA, but after that one, short conversation, I started to consider why I had never called myself a writer before.

Friends called me a writer. Clearly, professors called me a writer. Family called me a writer. 

Why did I not allow myself to embrace that title as my own?

First off, I was scared that I wasn't good enough. 
I was terrified of calling myself a writer, and failing at it.

Success at being a writer had meant to me that I had to be published, respected, known to people I don't know personally.

Second, I didn't always feel like a writer because I wasn't working towards publication. I wasn't sharing my writing much at all and I didn't really want to change that. 

Now, even though I'm starting this blog and looking at venues for publication, I know that being a writer just means that I write. For myself most of the time. For others some of the time. And being published does not mean I am more or less of a writer. It's just a bonus.

So I tried for a while to call myself a writer. I told myself that I was a writer almost every day. When people asked me about what I like to do, instead of saying "I like to write." I said, "I'm a writer."

Just a little shift in my mentality made me so much more confident in myself and my writing. Now I accept that writing is a part of my identity and I'm dedicating a portion of my life to writing because I love it.

I'm also dedicating a portion of my blog to it - because I love it and I have a lot of opinions about it. So look forward to - every Monday (ish) I'll have something to say about writing here on the B&B!

For today, I want to know about you - do you identify yourself as a Writer? or a Reader? or something else? Did you have to come to terms with that at some point? Do you think I'm crazy (cause I am but specifically about this post)? Thoughts and opinions are welcome, just leave a comment down below and let's chat!

Next post: a Top 5 Wednesday about Polarizing Books on, you guessed it, Wednesday.

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