July 02, 2007

Being a Writer

One of the standard pieces of advice for aspiring writers is to identify one's self as a writer, claim it as part of one's identity. I've always resisted doing that.

Part of my reaction is that I don't like being tied down to a single identity. It feels like being a butterfly pinned to a board, wings outspread, and labeled. Every one I've seen like that was dead. Not that being alive in that situation appeals any more. I've spent a good chunk of my life flitting from display case to display case, and I want to be able to do it again if warranted.

The other reason not to identify myself as a writer is that I'm pretty sure I could stop, unlike most writers I know. Why don't I? After all, writing is a vale of tears, self-torture, humiliation on demand, etc. ETC.

Yeah, right. This stuff is a hoot.

Where else in life do I get to make up as much nonsense as I like and persuade people to take it seriously? Where else can I march people around without worrying about hurt feelings and trampled rights? Where else can I funnel the creative urge, which makes me edgy and unsatisfied if not indulged, into something that has a shot making its way in the world? Where else can I stretch myself this much, learn and risk failure without real-world consequences?

And how much of that would change if I told myself I was a writer? How much more seriously would I have to take it if it were something I am instead of just something I do?

No thanks. I think I'll stretch my wings a bit longer on my own before I go looking for that pin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My attitude about this is that "writer" is what I let other people call me. I'm too busy just writing to give myself a name.