When Do You Get to Call Yourself a Writer?

tumblr_lidser95dd1qgmdm9o1_500

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

your art

is not about how many people

like your work

your art

is about

if your heart likes your work

if your soul likes your work

it’s about how honest

you are with yourself

and you must never trade honesty for relatability

“To All Young Poets” – Rupi Kaur

Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!

In honour of my favourite poet’s 113th birthday, I’ve decided to post another of his many lovely poems. This one is quite fitting for my blog’s recurring theme of dreaming (in case you want to check out the other poem I’ve posted so far, here it is).

The Dream Keeper

Bring me all of your dreams,

You dreamers,

Bring me all of your

Heart melodies

That I may wrap them

In a blue cloud-cloth

Away from the too-rough fingers

Of the world.

Dwell on Dreams and Forget to Live

I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there – I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in real life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching TV – you don’t feel anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Andy Warhol

No other quote I’ve read has ever spoken to me as much as this one by Andy Warhol, mainly because, in some ways, I’ve never before understood something about myself as clearly as after reading this. Only then did I realize that I felt the same way and I indeed was shocked to see these words, which were essentially my own thoughts, written down like that, once spoken by someone else.

This has always been my point: I felt that I wasn’t experiencing anything, that I was missing out, and that life was passing by without me noticing. What I have learnt so far is that merely being alive does not necessarily equate living, at least not the way I define living. As weird as it sounds, we have to work at truly living such as by starting to appreciate the little things and living in and enjoying the moment without constantly thinking ahead. There was a time when I was in such a slump that I would not be able to acknowledge the bright side of things. Everyday things like a beautiful day full of sunshine would go by unnoticed. Luckily, I am not as glum as I used to be.

Still, Warhol’s insights continue to have impact. I still frequently consider myself to only be “half-there”, that I am not actively participating in my own life. Time goes by so quickly, it can seem as if you are a spectator, not an actor. We tend to forget to take a step back, breathe, and reflect. Also, when reminiscing about moments in my life, they rarely feel strong or vivid, rather as if I was remembering something I had seen on TV. I’m a passionate movie-goer and film and book addict (causing me to completely dive into their fictional worlds) and a bit of a daydreamer. It’s not really the romantic kind of daydreaming; it’s just that I drift off imagining different scenarios of what I’d rather do, where I’d rather be etc. Sometimes I’m envious of the emotions portrayed in literature and film because they do appear to be so much stronger than how I experience and feel them.


I wanted to write about this quote and my thoughts on it for quite some time but always hesitated because it felt very personal. The reason why I’ve decided to write now is that 2014 is finally over and we’ve just rung in a new year. Looking back, you always remember the good and not so good. You may also find out what you’d like to change. Speaking for myself, I know that I wan’t to work on a healthier attitude, to be more optimistic, and to live in the moment more. I want to stop always worrying about the future, on whether I will achieve my goals. I want to cherish the things I have right now and feel alive. Live.

Wise Words from a Fictional Character

Importance of Dreaming

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Langston Hughes

These are the first lines of Langston Hughes’ poem “Dreams”. I think it is so beautiful, meaningful, and at the same time very “accessible”. Although I love poetry I often cannot recite even my favourite poems – this is one of the few exceptions.

The poem actually consists of two quatrains; a fact which I was unaware of until just know! As I have originally first read, and ultimately fallen in love with, only the first four lines I decided to post only these, but in case you would like to read the whole, check it out!