“I’m not a writer”

‘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.

More about Caryn

Journalist, Reader, Dreamer, Fangirl, Defender of the Weak (and that's just my formal titles). I hope to one day take over the world or marry Tom Hiddleston.

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