I had a dream last night.
It actually had nothing to do with this post, but I’ve always wanted to begin a post with those words. I hope you don’t mind indulging me just a little. It’s just that my brain is a bit overwhelmed at the moment figuring out this rather complicated question.
Here’s the thing. I like to write stories. Some people actually like reading those stories. A couple of publishers have even considered these stories to be worthy of publication.
So what does that mean?
Does that make me a writer? Does that mean that something intrinsic about my identity changes as soon as I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, to be more precise – although that doesn’t sound anywhere near as writerly)? And does that mean I then take on all of the baggage that one would normally assume someone claiming that title would take on? Am I some sort of a delicate petal of a creative type? Am I a hopeless narcissist, privileging my art over other considerations (such as my family)? Am I a cool sort of dude, sitting in a cafe with a steaming cup of black coffee, waiting for inspiration to strike?
Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe, I’m me, no matter whether I write or not. Maybe, I’m really defined by the bundle of strange habits and quirks I’ve accumulated over my lifetime (and believe me, I’ve more than my share of strange habits and quirks). Maybe, the writing is an optional extra – something I like to do but which in no way defines me. Maybe I’m just someone who writes.
Sometimes, I feel like I want to have it both ways. I like the feeling of cool that comes with saying, “I am a writer.” I like the interest it generates and the questions that people ask (as long as those questions don’t refer to how much money I make).
But I also like to think of myself as more than just my writing. I’m also defined by my friends and my family, and lots of other things as well: the music I listen to and the food I like to eat and the terrible jokes I make and even the football team I support. It’s all part of me, just as much as writing is.
So I guess that goes some way to answering the question. Am I a writer or just someone who writes? Simple – I’m both.
For an example of something wrote when I was just being a writer, you can download a free copy of my novella Doodling at http://www.jonathangouldwriter.com/doodling/.
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