‘I’m not a writer’
I say this often, and I know it sounds extremely insufferable but I don’t identify as a writer. I write, yes, my job requires me to be constantly writing, my hobbies are free time are mostly comprised of me writing. But in much the same way that I don’t describe myself as an eater or sleeper, I don’t call myself a writer.
I am a content producer, journalist, blogger, letter writer etc, but I’m no writer. Which is not to say that I don’t believe that others can be writers, I read so much great work everyday that I’m mutter myself, “now that’s a writer”. I recently read the excellent book, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, and the other time I was reading I fell more in love with her writing, and even though she saw writing as her talent, I wholeheartedly believe that she is correct in that assertion, but I haven’t yet got to the point where I see my writing as something I can be proud to be associated with and not just simply a lifestyle.
Perhaps it’s remnants of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and the more you exposed to something and learn about it the more inadequate you feel or perhaps it is that annoying feeling that I assume that lumberjacks must feel whenever a hipster walks past dressed up as one. Because even though writing is trendy, it is most definitely romanticised. Everyone wants to be a writer, everyone thinks they can be a writer, but being an actual writer is not that much fun.
And maybe not identifying as a writer means I am attempting to reject the romanticised, stereotypical notion of what a writer is, I don’t carry around my moleskin notebook and hang around in coffee shops (although I love coffee, and carry around a non-branded notebook), one glass of alcohol is enough for me and nope to check shirts. I have hands littered with pen marks, most of my notes and writing are so untidy and all over the place that I wouldn’t even think of Instagramming it, also Instagramming my writing seems just as ludicrous as someone else Instagramming their work desk.
I have a love/hate relationship with writing, I like being published, I like having written, but the actual process of writing something that I’m proud of is like pulling teeth. 110% of the time, my writing feels subpar, I have anxiety whenever I put anything out there because I’m scared of the response. But also writing is something I feel compelled to do, something I want to improve on, so that someday I could be Maggie Nelson’s level of admitting it to be my only talent (although my dodging promo people skill is legit).
Right now, it does not feel like a talent, or a skill or barely even a profession. It feels like a craft I’m working on – like learning French, and knitting – I don’t refer to myself as a French-speaker or knitter even though I’ve been learning these two things for years. Hopefully at some point I could feel like I’ve mastered it and be able to wear that moniker with pride, but until then I will slog at it, putting my work out there so that I can improve, attempting to accept criticism with grace, and always working hard at it.