I am a Writer.

I am a writer. 

Sometimes the simplest statements are the most difficult to say, or more accurately the most difficult to believe.  Whenever I attempt to label myself a “writer,” I feel the need to qualify the statement.  I will say things such as: “I like to write for fun,” “Writing is my hobby,” “I write sometimes,” or as my Unexpected Ever Afters author tag states, “I am an aspiring writer.”  The qualifiers are varied, but the meanings are all the same: “I am not a real writer.”

I remember when all my qualifying statements were first challenged.  I was having a conversation with a good friend who is also a fellow writer and someone with whom I frequently share my writing stories and goals. In all honesty, I consider her the “real writer” in our friendship, due to her genuine talent and writing experience.  However, during this particular conversation she started a story with, “I thought you would appreciate this story because you are a writer too.”  At that moment, my mind momentarily froze.  She called me a writer, without pause, without qualifiers, just a simple fact added to a conversation.  Her unintentional confidence in me was contagious. 

Later, as I thought through the conversation, I initially thought through a list of ALL the reasons she was wrong, that in fact  I am not actually a writer. I do not write enough, I’m not paid to write, I don’t have a book published, my list of why I’m not a “real writer” went on for a while. I find doubt often works that way, it can run wild when unchecked, feeding into even the most illogical fears.  But, despite my lengthy list, I still couldn’t let go of my friend’s comment referencing me as a writer.  As I considered why I didn’t feel comfortable with the label, I remembered a post Wendi wrote titled You are never ‘just a where she described the downfall to qualifying our roles. She wrote, “It is almost a subconscious, automatic addition, as though I’m not entirely convinced of the importance of my roles and responsibilities, or I feel the need to highlight that I’m unqualified or insignificant in the grand scheme of things.”  She continued “I have found that “just a” prevents me from living fully and proudly into whatever role I’m fulfilling at the moment, regardless of perceived notion of value or importance related to my title.”  It struck me that was what I was doing, downplaying my role as a writer by adding qualifiers: I’m someone who just writes for fun or just writes a blog.  The truth is, I write.  I write a blog.  I write for fun. I write at work. I write in a journal. I write fiction. I write memories. I am a writer. My qualifying statements prevent me from proudly embracing that role in my life.

As I started to settle into the idea that maybe I am a writer, I had a fun interaction with a person sitting next to me on an airplane.  I was sitting in my seat next to the window with my notebook and pen, journaling a little but mostly getting lost watching the clouds. While I daydreamed, I accidentally dropped my pen.  As I reached for it, the woman sitting next to me exclaimed, “Oh, I love those pens!”  Now, I also love a really good pen and was excited to be sitting next to someone who shared my enthusiasm.  So, I smiled and replied, “Me too!”  I noticed she was also journaling, so I asked about her pen.  She told me it was her favorite pen and insisted I try to write with it.  This was a first for me, trying a stranger’s pen, but I said yes. After writing a few words, I agreed the pen was wonderful and asked where she got it.  She couldn’t remember and the brand on the pen was in a different language so we couldn’t decipher what it was.  This caused the pen conversation to dwindle.  In an attempt to change the topic,  I asked about her writing, inquiring “Are you a writer?” as I gestured to her notebook.  She responded, “No, I am just working on a blog and have an idea for a book, but, no, I’m not a writer yet.”  I smiled and said, “You are journaling on an airplane, I am pretty sure you are a writer.”  She laughed and acknowledged, “I suppose I am.”  When I get stuck in my doubts and list of qualifiers, this exchange comes into my mind, because I was also journaling on an airplane.  Am I a writer? “I suppose I am.”

The idea to share these stories came out of a recent conversation with a friend as I, again, dealt with writing doubts.  I was struggling to come up with a topic for this blog post and grumbled about writer’s block.  I explained that I had nothing to say and couldn’t even write about running out of things to say because I just did that in November. I couldn’t admit I am still struggling to find words.  She responded, “That’s writing though. And there is something to be said for [writer’s block] not magically getting better.”  And, I thought to myself, see, even now, when my words have all been stuck, I am still a writer.  So I knew it was time to share, to celebrate, to remind myself of the reasons why I no longer need to qualify: I am a writer.

Jessica is a wife, mom, social worker, and aspiring writer.  She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters.

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