January 4, 2013 by Meg.Lacy
I repeat this fact to myself all of the time. But It never helps. I still feel like life is passing me by and I am not even near where I want to be.
What I want to be is a writer. I’m editing my first book. I’ve submitted short stories. I read educational books about writing. I do everything that most real writers do. But, when someone asks me about my life plan, I tell them: “I want to be a writer.” And every time I do this I wonder why didn’t I say I am a writer?
To be honest I don’t know. It just never comes out that way. Want to, not am, is the battle I fight with myself and the world daily.
So what is the difference between being a writer and wanting to be a writer? I think it depends on your definition. I have met people who have never had a single thing published yet brightly declare themselves a writer while others, who have had entire books published, decline to accept the coveted title.
To me, being a writer means that writing is my biggest responsibility. Not my job in a boutique. Not my second job as a social media manager. Not my third job as the “COO” of my husband’s start-up company. When writing is the only professional obligation that holds me, I will call myself a writer. When I can sit and write for hours without feeling guilty that I am not doing something else, I will be a writer.
But I don’t want this to be what it means. Not to me anyways.
I want to redefine my definition of ‘writer’. I want to say- and believe -that a writer is someone who sees a story in every interaction, every song and every moment of beauty they come across. They are people who write because they have to. Because they can’t help themselves. They scribble ideas on napkins and bits of envelopes. They have lists of things that inspire them. They write because it is who they are. It is how they express themselves. It is how they see the world.
The desire to write is visceral. If you are truly a writer it comes from within and spills out. A writer shouldn’t be defined as someone who is published, paid or prolific. A writer should be defined by their visceral need to write. That built in need is what I call ‘the spirit of a writer’ and only the presence of that unique spirit should determine if someone can call themselves a writer or not.
So, from now on, I am a writer. When someone asks me what I do I will tell them I write; I am a writer and always will be. That the bits of paper that fall from my pockets every time a change my pants are more important than any check I have ever received. That whenever I hear a love song I think of writing and what it means to me. That I have the spirit of a writer and as such, I write.