I AM A WRITER
It came out in a discussion with a friend. As a part of this challenge, was I a writer or an aspiring writer? Should we all call ourselves writers? Is it an honest statement? Yes, I told him. I could say I am a writer that has not been officially published, but it does not change the fact that I AM a writer. Writing is something that is more than an activity I do. Writing is a response of who I am. Without it I would be less. I AM a writer.
This two letter word, AM, is, in my opinion, among the most important words in the English language. This simple word, one form of the verb tense “to be” can shape my perception of myself and the world I live in in metamorphic ways. It is a word of being, a word of becoming. It is a word that speaks of the way we see ourselves. It is a word that speaks our view of the place we hold in the world in which we live.
It is the cultural aspects that cause the quandary about whether or not the word “aspiring” should be attached to our declaration of ourselves as writers. What does that word signify? “Aspiring” holds the idea of something you would like to be but are not. It is a word that divides the act into those who have arrived and those who have not. It signifies that the definition comes from without. The “are” of the opinions of others is given precedence. If I have met the cultural checklist of expectations then this act I do of writing to express what is within has the appropriate meaning. If I have not then I am not allowed to claim the label.
I work with truly aspiring writers every weekday. I am an elementary teacher so students I meet each day are learning how to do the task of structuring letters and turning them into words and phrases and sentences, of combining them into paragraphs and other meaning driven pieces. When those children produce their first stories, we don’t say to them, “Very good. Someday you will be a writer if you keep up the hard work and can publish a piece on the wider market that will engender significant comment from valued critics and bring in revenue.” Can you imagine what that would do to the inner writer who is finding expression in those first words?
If we would find it ludicrous to do that to children, why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we let the culture dictate to us who or what we “are”?
It matters. If I am something than I will believe I have it within me to do what needs to be done. I will believe in my ability to grow and to change in the process of becoming better at this thing that is a part of who I am. I will listen within and trust that there is within me what I need to overcome obstacles, to find outside resources to aid me in the process of growth, to move forward on my journey without fear that I will never reach some destination that will always be as distant as the expectations of others. I will know that within is a well of ideas to draw on, that though sometimes seeming dry, can be primed by seeking the help and support of others outside myself. I can be enough.
I am a writer.