When can someone say they’re a writer?
On the surface this is a weird question because the answer can be at once obvious but also murky. Is it when they are published? Or can someone call themselves a writer if writing is something they love to do? This brings up its own set of questions. How often does one then have to write? Do they have to be a good writer, or can they just love writing?
My first memories of writing are during prep. I was tasked with writing about my weekend. However, it wasn’t until grade three that I genuinely discovered my love of writing. We had to retell a fairytale, and I chose Shrek. I had Fiona and Donkey rescuing Shrek, while having to fight off Rapunzel and Snow White, and there wasn’t an ogre in sight. After this I filled notebook after notebook with short stories, thoughts, ideas and terrible song lyrics. My love of reading both influenced and fed off my love of writing and soon I was telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be a famous author just like J.K. Rowling.
Since those early days I have written many things, from an untold number of uni essays to a thesis and to articles published online. Yet, the older I have gotten, the more difficult it has been to balance things like university and work with having the time and space to write what I want to write. Am I still a writer?
In our society, it feels as though someone can only claim they are a writer or an artist if they commit large amounts of their time to a project or work on it as a job. Simultaneously, writing – or anything creative really – is undervalued. I’ve lost track of the number of times I have heard of an artist being asked to work for free or at a rate that doesn’t allow them to support themselves. On top of this, many artists and writers describe the work on their creations as a need.
Between work, university, assignments and my internship here at Busybird, it is hard to find time to write. In fact, this blog is the first thing I’ve written that’s not related to uni in almost three months. This has happened nearly every semester that I have been at uni. I start out hopeful that I’m going to be able to juggle everything. Then the first assignment hits, then the second, and then the third. Before I know it, it’s almost the end of semester and I’ve barely written anything. Yet, I spend the whole time feeling like something is missing.
I feel I am still a writer, despite all of this. And maybe that’s the answer to the question. We alone can decide when or if we feel comfortable calling ourselves writers, and what the circumstances are that influence this decision.