“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.”
~ Mike Dooley
I just never get tired of this subject. (Not!)
Here’s how it goes:
Nice lady at the Avon Walk: What do you do?
Me: Oh, I’m a writer. And a health coach.
NLATAW: (Ignoring the health coach part.) You’re a writer? What books have you written that I can find on the shelves of Barnes and Noble?
Me: (Wondering how long Barnes and Noble will hang on…) Well, I have one, but it’s an anthology. (Like I somehow have to justify having at least one thing on the shelves of B&N and the library before I dare call myself a writer.)
You writers understand. I know you do. Because we’re all at different points of the journey, but we’ve all started at the same place.
My snarky side secretly hopes Avon lady says something like “I’m a runner” so I can say, “Oh? When was your last marathon?” which of course would only play out in my fantasy mind.
This idea that to call yourself a writer you have to have writer badges in the form of books hanging all over your Girl Scout writer sash is just plain silly. But it’s running rampant, I tell you. I think I get this response 75% of the time I call myself a writer. It didn’t happen when I was a teacher. It didn’t happen when I was a law firm marketing director. (That one was just a head cock because nobody understood what the heck that meant.) Nope. this response is particular to calling yourself a writer.
What is a writer anyway? A person (usually male according to Google Images) who smokes cigarettes and drinks hot drinks while running his fingers through his touseled waves while staring with puzzled red eyes at the blank white? Add location–usually a dark room with lots of crumpled paper surrounding the small desk–and there you have it. Right?
I’m sitting out in the teen center which my son’s friend Bailey (currently going by Russell which he likes better) wants to turn into the “Fortress of Solitude.” I’m on the couch with the printer a whole building away (no crumpled paper). Indeed, this writing won’t ever involve any printing at all unless at some point my mother requests a copy because one of her friends reads it and tells her about it and she asks. I’m drinking Smart Water with Strawberry Lemonade fat burner hoping to knock off that late night peanut butter from last night. I’m sweaty, having just finished my cross training stint while simultaneously watching an interview by Dr. Lissa Rankin on what really happened in the documentary film, “Sacred Science” from her perspective…and I’m not even thinking about smoking. I’m not staring at a blank screen or demanding perfection (if you are a regular reader, you know I have a game called ‘Find Jamie’s at-least-one-mistake in each entry’.) Instead, I’m typing as fast as I can (think Joycian stream of consciousness with punctuation) so I can shower, go get my car from the mechanic, pick up my kids from swim practice, make dinner, and schedule this to go out tomorrow.)
Does this mean I’m not a writer? Must I write about character, or voice, or setting, or other writers, or other books, or metaphor, or ____________ (fill in a writerly word) to call myself a writer? And, when I do, must I have a book on the shelf in B&N to prove it?
Nah. I’m calling bullshit on that.