It’s all about the money, money, money…?
When call yourself a writer? It’s a far from straightforward question.
In a strange way, this whole concept of identity was catapulted to the front of my mind just a couple of weeks ago when a cheque arrived. Or a ‘check’, as it came all the way from the USA – $500 of prize money for a story of mine which won a competition. I was delighted of course, cashed it and intend to spend it on more writing-related business as yet unspecified…
Seriously – it made me feel like a writer. I know; it was a one-off payment. First prize winnings are NOT a regular occurrence in my writing den, and I suspect most others are the same. And it can’t be true, can it, that our identity as writers depends on the clinking of coins in our pockets. It helps to feel validated by hard cash, I’m sure, but no, let’s not measure ourselves like this.
I began to wonder. A man who twirls on the pavement occasionally can’t very well call himself a gymnast. But a man who devotes significant time each week to the discipline of training, honing his skill and competing, all the while striving to be the best he can – well, he sounds like a gymnast to me!
If you write every day, or even most days, you’re a writer! If you practise and produce and perfect, striving to make your work as great as it can be, you’re a writer. If you think about your work-in-progress, obsess about it in the shower and on dancefloors and while doing the dishes, you’re a writer!
And so am I.
You may be other things, too. I’m a teacher, a friend, a wife, a mum, a Christian, a bird-watching enthusiast, a lover of folk music. But I do daily carve out time to write in order to get better; to get the stories in my head out there into the heads of others, and hopefully in time, onto their bookshelves.