I don’t know if you had a chance to check out Nathan Bransford’s blog yesterday, but if so…Yowzer! Nathan has a tendency to be straightforward and informal on his blog, at the same time as being wonderfully informative and educational. Did he have good intentions? I believe he did. Very few other agents spend the time and attention providing insight to unpublished authors. He has a strong track record of trying to help. So what of it?
~~Yesterday he broached a sensitive subject for writers. He asked if perhaps too many of us have our identity tied into the title, “WRITER”. Given, he’s a smart guy. He knows that a good many of his followers are aspiring novelists. As I read his words and over 350 comments, I was utterly fascinated. Someone once told me I should be a lawyer because of my ability to see the black, see the white and somehow understand it as gray. Because they said that, should I call myself a lawyer (just joking on this one)?
~~Here’s the deal, if your identity is entirely dependent on being called a writer, I think there’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply impassioned about writing. I do call myself a writer and I know that without writing I would not be filled with this fire and this call in my life.
~~What Nathan had to realize is that he threw that question to the wind before thousands of people probably already fighting insecurities about the craft, whether they’ve been published or paid for their writing or not. He reneged his original challenge that maybe writers are more like hobbyists. Boy, did that word have people stirred.
~~I’ve been both published and paid for my writing, but writing is not who I am. Is it an integral part of who I am? Absolutely. Would I feel shorted in some way if I were unable to ever write again? Absolutely. But because my identity is in Christ I can handle rejection. I can handle it if I’m never published again and I can handle it if someone wants to question whether writing is a hobby or a craft. Why can I handle it? Because I KNOW. That’s what makes a writer from a non-writer. You don’t need someone else to define it for you. If you go through life waiting for others to throw labels on you, get ready to be called a whole lot of things other than writer. Read this book about Punchinello if you want more insight on this.
~~One way to look at this question, as big as the Hindenburg, is for me to admit about my writing, “It’s not who I am, it’s what I love to do.” For me this doesn’t steal away the mystery, passion or impressions of the muse when I write it. When I think of things I’m passionate about, I think of what I want to be said about me at my funeral. I know, morbid…but stick with me (I know I’m not alone in thinking things like this). I want someone to stand up and share what I stood for, what I was about and what I loved and if writing weren’t mentioned in that mix would I be sad? No, I’d be dead and I wouldn’t know any better. My point is that it should mean something to you, to me, to us if we call ourselves a writer. Who cares what it means to anyone else?
~~However, if you’re a wannabe writer and you haven’t fallen in love with the craft you probably feel weird calling yourself that, but hey, it’s your own conscience you need to wrestle with. What’s it to me? But if you’re like me and you dream of putting words on the page, you dream of characters and great plot lines and tense interactions…well, then calling yourself a writer should feel natural. And again, who cares? People will judge us no matter what. WE need to know who we are. I thank my God I know who I am and continue to learn more about who that is every time I write.
~~And about the can of worms Nathan opened up, some people like to eat worms. I know I sure ate it up, reading his blog and the abundance of comments. I liked the challenge. If we don’t want to be challenged, then how can we be sure of what we stand for, who we are and even what we believe?
~~Know who you are and know it well.
~~What defines you?