I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Labels matter. As writers, we believe in the power of stories. That’s why we tell them. That’s why we treasure them. The most important stories are the ones we tell ourselves about ourselves. That tape loop that runs inside our heads, hissing at us as we pursue the unexpected path, perhaps the improbable one.
Amateur, wannabe, has been (funny how these two coexist like wrinkles and acne in mid-age), dilettante, poseur, delusional, fraud. Have I really earned any of them? Why am I so fast to burden myself with negative nameplates but affirmation can only come from the outside? Who gave the world that authority over me? I did. I’m taking it back.
I am a writer. This is my job. The pay and benefits at Self Employed Inc. are not great but I like my coworkers. Most startups bleed money long before they earn their first sale. If there is anything I’ve learned it’s that if I’m waiting for the external world to validate my sense of self, I’d better bring a good book, because it will take a while. Tall poppies and all that.
My writing will never win a Pulitzer, or a Booker prize, or be on a MFA syllabus. That’s not the dream anyway. I just want to make someone’s afternoon a little better, or give them a different angle on their own backyard.
If there is anything else I’ve learned, it’s that lots of people suck at their jobs and it doesn’t seem to bother them one little bit. Some of them don’t even realize it. Do they have to hand back their title on a plate? If they did, the business world would come to a screeching halt.
So, from here on out, you are a writer, or a musician, or whatever it is your passion leads you to be. If anyone questions it, tell them I said so, or better yet, that you said so. Now that we’ve made that clear, what are you going to do about it? Right now, today.
Make your declaration, and write your own story. And most of all, remember that you rock.