Today in our baby play group, the topic of when us moms are planning to return to work came up and what kind of work we will or would like to be doing. I said that rather than working a regular office job, I’d want to be a writer and musician, but as that doesn’t pay the bills very well, I’ll stick with the corporate job. One of the other moms related and told me, she is just shy of finishing her first book, which she’s been working on for four years. She further inquired what kind of writing I did, which left me struggling for an answer, because fact is: I don’t write.
I’m a fucking fraud!
Yes, I have written a short story or two in the past year and there have been times when I produced a fair amount of poetry and song lyrics, but I can’t even get around to writing this blog for crying out loud! What right to I have to call myself a writer?
I like the idea of writing and I enjoy the process of it if and when time and mood permit.
But does that make me a writer? Where’s that point where you get to say you ARE something?
For certain things in life, that’s pretty obvious. Some of them I encountered very recently. You’re not someone’s wife until you’ve said “Yes”. You’re not someone’s mother until you have given birth to that someone. You’re not a shoplifter until you’ve stolen something. NOT THAT I DID THAT! The first two examples were from my life, this was just… never mind.
Anyway. In other scenarios, it’s not so clear. Are you a runner just because you go for a run every so often? Are you a great cook just because you have never poisoned someone and your family doesn’t complain? Are you a musician just because you manage to play three chords on the guitar? Are you a creep just because you sometimes watch your neighbor sunbathing through the hedge? (Well, that you really are if you do that.)
I would like to say: “Drop the ‘just because’s. Do not limit your perception of yourself by high standards! If you feel you are a seamstress because you sow something every once in a while, call yourself that. If you think of yourself as a gardener because all your potted plants are in really good shape, do that.”
I would say that to other people and mean it. But to myself? To myself I say: “Don’t fool yourself. You’re no fucking musician just because you play in a band. You only play five concerts a year! That doesn’t count.” Or, as I realized today: “Don’t call yourself a writer unless you produce at least one short story a month. Or rather two a month. And where is that book you fantasize about writing? And you want to be a writer? That’s cute.”
I wish I could be as lenient and encouraging to myself as I can be to others, and I’m pretty sure most of the people out there are the same when it comes to their own talents and activities.
Let’s take this thought into the weekend and let’s be what we want to be. I’m gonna be a writer, my next-door neighbor may choose be a sculptor and the guy down the road a really tidy person. Imagine a world where everyone is exactly what they want to be. Scary or awesome?