It’s funny to trace how many of my seemingly innocuous conversations end up becoming some of the most perception- shifting of my life. My most recent perception- shifting conversation began as a rundown to my coworker about the introduction to magazine writing class that I am thinking of taking early next year, one of the hiccups to my taking the course being that I am not sure if it is designed for individuals with no professional writing experience. Near the end of my rundown, my coworker said that as a writer I should seriously consider registering for this introduction to magazine writing course. Quickly I snapped back and stated that I am not a writer. Sure, I love to write and have a blog that I try to write in as much as I can, but due to my lack of professional writing credentials, I couldn’t possibly refer to myself as a writer. Gazing square into my eyes, my coworker replied that the fact that my writing hasn’t been published, nor the fact that I am not currently getting paid for what I write, should not dissuade me from identifying myself as a writer. “No, no, no,” I insisted. Unless I can add “writer” onto my resume, an action that for me would necessitate being able to list at least one entity that has published my writing, I cannot represent myself as a writer. And since I am not generating any income from my blog, I added, I can’t use my blog as a way to legitimate myself as a writer. Almost as soon as these words came spinning out of my mouth, my mind wandered back to a Marie Forleo You Tube video I saw where she addressed an e-mail from a viewer that wanted advice about how to project herself as a writer first, pre-school teacher second. At the very top of the list of things that Marie suggested this viewer do was to “Speak it.” For example, when introducing herself to people, Marie suggested that the viewer identify herself as a writer first, expounding on everything relating to her life as a writer, afterward speaking to her work as a pre-school teacher. The rationale behind this “Speak it” suggestion being the belief that words have the power not only to change the way we see ourselves, but also the way others see us.
For doctor’s, lawyer’s and accountant’s, a set amount of schooling and licensing in their field is what validates their standing in that profession, but for professions such as writing, acting, and singing, the line is not always that clear. While one can chase down a degree focusing in on writing, acting, or singing, it is not entirely necessary for one to have to formal training in any of these areas to gain entry into the profession. Ideally, writers should be able to write clearly and concisely, actors should be able to convincingly deliver lines, and singers should be able to carry a note, however, many of the opportunities in these fields do not require any formal training, and in some cases, having any tangible talent is optional. In lieu of degrees and certification, writers, actors, and singers are typically validated by the number of books/articles they publish, how many substantial TV and movies roles they’ve landed, and how many chart topping hits they’ve cranked out. In terms of writing, I’ve always regarded individuals whom have published books, magazine or newspaper articles as those having the wherewithal to say that they are a writer. Yet, is carrying the moniker of writer simply a matter of being able to point to a certain amount of books and/or articles published? Practically speaking, yes, being able to point to a set number of books, articles, and nowadays, blog entries published is a clean way to validate ones claim to be a writer, but just as important is the ability to take ownership of that title regardless of ones current level of publication in the field. For me, this means letting go of my preconceived notion that presenting myself as a writer to those I meet requires my being able to point to a portfolio chock full of published articles. Getting some articles published would be great and certainly would push me closer towards acquiring some professional writing cred, but ultimately what make defines me as a writer today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow will not be the number of articles I get published, but rather my love for the craft of writing. It is my passionate love for the craft of writing that propels me to strive to approach the world as a blank canvas that I have the opportunity to mold with my words. This deep and abiding love for writing is what keeps me scribbling ideas and thoughts onto post it notes and pieces of scrap paper, and most important, it is what keeps me doing what every writer does, write.
So, with this in mind, I say, “Hello world, it’s me, an aspiring to be published writer, call me.”