Thursday, January 20, 2011

Am I Really a Writer?

     Of all the questions we ask ourselves, there is one question that does more to gum up a writers muse than all others:   Am I Really A Writer?

   By itself it seems harmless enough and self reflection is good for us. Right? So why does this question carry such dire consequences? 

    Sometimes the very act of discovering the perfect descriptors, a basic exercise for any writer, for what it is we do creates an insurgent inadequacy powerful enough to knock the pen from our hands.  

    For we idealize the artist as we do the movie star. Each of us carrying  a vision of what a true writer looks like. 

    Perhaps yours is of the lone writer struggling tirelessly against the curse of vagueness.  Or a Stephen King-like voraciousness that continues to spew forth published works or the Emily Dickenson-like surreptitious strength of brevity bubbling quietly from within.  

     An impossible measure that can leave us barren.

     A writer, not unlike an artist,  is someone who views the world in a way that demands the act of expression and wields the pen like a brush upon a canvas.  

      Roland Barthes  said  "... I cannot but ascribe to some super-humanity the existence of beings vast enough to wear blue pajamas at the very moment when they manifest themselves as universal conscience."

So as I don my pink footie pajamas armed with nothing but my keyboard and a cup of joe I plunge again because I don't know any other way to live.

What's your vision of a writer and how do you remind yourself that you are indeed a writer? 


  1. I imagine most of them are like me - just an average person. Doubt they like the spotlight any more than me, either.
    No pink slippers, though - that would look odd!

  2. For me the question isn't, am I writer? It's, am I halfway descent writer?

  3. I imagine writers as being the people I see on the street--sometimes I'll wonder if the people I pass are actually writers at home, when no one's watching. :)

  4. Great post, Pam.

    In high school, I'd found out I won a writing contest. I was over the moon excited. A workman at our house at the time asked, "Have you published anything?" His question poked a hole in my happy balloon and all the air leaked out. Worrying about getting published sometimes sucks the joy out of the writing process.

    The truth is I was a writer before I was published. I worked just as hard at writing before I was published. I was a writer then. I'm a writer now.

    Being a writer comes from the inside, not the outside.

    So, are you a writer? If you write, the answer is YOU BETCHA!

  5. Do you write? Then you are a writer.

    Yes, that's probably an oversimplification, and I deal with the same insecurities. But perhaps we are just getting caught up in identity labels rather than the relatively simple business of putting pen to paper.

    I know I get tripped up by this. But, even though I always am confused about identity, I know that writing brings me joy and fulfillment (even when it's hard), and so I keep on doing it.

    Great post dealing with a tough issue!

  6. I think Angela's got it right--I don't worry about whether I'm a writer, but whether I'm a good writer!


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