Well, I’ve just started on my one and only coffee for the day, and … realised just how difficult things can be before that moment. Coffee doesn’t save me, it doesn’t perk me, it doesn’t actually do anything, but the day will not kick into gear without it. I’m not a junky. It’s only one. But it has to be at the right time. This time, or everything goes off-key for the rest of the day.
And that’s not how I want it to be. It can’t be. I have a job that defines how I see myself, who I am. I need to find inspiration at ‘this’ time every day. It’s my job. An important job.
Not a paying job. Not earning enough to pay tax. But it’s my full-time professional output based on years of experience and learning and continual updating of skills.
What do I do?
I write. My job label is writer, author, fool. It’s what I do.
Is it who I am?
Not a silly question, not a play with semantics, not being pedantic. I write, therefore, am I a writer? What is it that makes a writer?
What are the important things to consider? I read this (Chuck Wendig), and thought about it. If I’d received that advice at 24, would I have believed it, acted on it? Would I have the courage to put out novel after novel after novel just to feel/fulfil that need to tell stories?
Well, short story long (the bane of reading something by a writer), I did keep going. One was published, almost no sales, disappointing, and then it changed. Fear crept in. No one liked it.
I didn’t keep sending stuff out to the world. I didn’t let anyone else read them (foster-kids don’t count because they owned the stories too) and I didn’t take it seriously. Why not?
It didn’t earn me money. It wouldn’t earn enough to keep the garden alive, let alone the kids and animals.
Who was I then? A variety of labels for the jobs I undertook to provide cash-flow. A carer to kids and animals, a provider of provender and shelter, a sounding board and ironing board and cheque-book, as well as the driver, teacher of skills of same (even without a licence – but don’t tell anyone!), tutor, hugger (based on different rules for each kid), animal trainer, front-man to the world. Lots of other things.
Notice one thing missing?
At that time, I didn’t put the label of writer on my life. I wasn’t then a writer, even though I penned stories, spoke stories, dreamed and scribbled and planned stories.
I didn’t put them out there for the world to see.
And, to me, that’s the single most important thing a writer needs to do. If I were a bard or a nomad or a shaman or any other form of storytelling person, would I keep the words to myself? Would I be allowed to do that?
Not even going to answer it. You know the answer.
And the writer doesn’t have just one story to tell. You can’t be a writer with only one notch on your belt. No one will see the story if there’s only one among millions.
The question remains: Who am I? How do I answer it now:
I am a writer who writes several books each year, publishes them, and then goes on to write another.
Why do I call myself a writer if it doesn’t earn me enough to keep me fed?
Because I love it; I can’t not do it; the obsession doesn’t end with the first story – it gets worse! There are so many more stories that now clamour at my door because they found someone who wants to tell stories! So, in they come, drop their ideas and plans and little twisty bits because they know the words will find a way to the world.
I am a storyteller, a writer, an author.
Who are you?