I ride the bus to my day job. Not only do I save a lot of hassle doing it (I work in the middle of the city and parking is horrendous and expensive), but I also use it to get a lot writing work done, a sort of mobile office. A few days ago I was riding the bus and scribbling away furiously on story revisions. I hope I wasn’t, but I was probably jabbering away at myself at the same time, like some sort of crazy person. After several minutes, the woman sitting next to me asked what I was doing, and I told her I was revising a story. Naturally she asked if I was a writer, and without thinking, I said, “Yes, I’m a writer.”
I find this interesting because I’ve never identified myself as a “writer.” I’ve always identified myself as “someone who writes,” which I think is different because it implies that I write in addition to something else, that writing is a secondary thing. Writers to me are people like Hemingway, Faulkner, Atwood, etc. who are identified by the larger world by and through their writing.
So after telling the woman on the bus I was a writer, I had a nice conversation with her and her husband about writing and some of my publications. It turns out they were science fiction and fantasy fans, so we talked about favorite books. Her husband dabbled in writing, and expressed an interest in publishing, so we also talked the business side of writing. Overall, it was a pleasant conversation. Only after I had gotten off at my stop did I realize what had transpired.
I’m not sure if this actually means anything or not. Have I crossed some sort of mental bridge without even realizing it? I don’t know. I don’t feel any different—the temperature of my forehead says I’m not sick. I don’t think my writing is any different. Yet, perhaps my perception of what my writing means to me has changed. Hmmm…I wonder if this is a good thing…hmmm…I think maybe it is.
Congratulations! Self-identifying as a writer is the first step to a cure!!
Seriously, isn’t it a somewhat otherworldly experience? I kinda had that same feeling the first time I admitted to a stranger that “I’m a writer.” Now I’m more motivated than ever to live up to that claim.