That’s the question weighing on my mind lately: when does one get to call oneself a writer?
Recently, I’ve been following loads of people on WordPress and Twitter – young people about my age who already seem to have achieved so much more than me (writing-wise). A lot of them have already published articles and personal essays in various online and print magazines. This has lead me to contemplate my own writing which so far has gone by largely unread. Part of it is due to my own hesitation to share what I write. I feel like my writing is just not quite ‘there’ yet. But if no one ever gets to read what I write, aside from entries on this blog, can I really call myself a writer?
To be honest, I don’t ever actually call myself a writer. I always thought that was a distinction reserved for people who’ve actually had any of their work published. Is having been published the only determining factor though? Or maybe someone who religiously writes everday (which would also exclude me…) would qualify as well? I guess the simple wish to one day be an “established” writer isn’t enough…
After some further reflection, I realised, however, that I am not one to espouse elitist views, especially not when it comes to ‘the arts’. Writing is for oneself primarily. Sure, there are people who write for money, fame, recognition etc. but I believe most people with a passion for literature and writing would agree that the main “reason” they write is that it’s a perfect way to express oneself. To deal with life’s frustrations, to make sense of the rambling thoughts in your head, to cope with anxiety or depression, to create a world that’s wholly your own. And these experiences made when writing for oneself are just as valuable as are pieces printed in noteworthy publications.
For now though I doubt I’ll ever truly think of myself as a writer. I am too insecure and worried about style, originality, creativity, and authenticity. This doesn’t mean that I won’t ever get there eventually. So, until then, I will simply take solace in the fact that this is a struggle many writers(-to-be) face.
“[…] he had the vision necessary to write, but he needed to discover the method that could translate ethereal clouds of thought into written word”
quote on Jack Kerouac – one of my favourite authors – finding his writing style from Dennis McNally’s book Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America