Am I a Writer?

It’s been nearly a year since I last published a post here. I have a slew of drafts in various states of completion, but none of them ever felt compelling enough to finish and share. Lately, though, I’ve been pondering the meaning of identifying as “a writer,” and feeling mostly downtrodden.

I will always write, in one form or another, but it’s become increasingly difficult for me to feel like I could be a Writer. In my head, a Writer is not even necessarily an Author (whom I consider a person who has written a novel/book and had it published), but is at least someone who gets paid for their work. Given that definition, will I ever be a capital-W Writer? I don’t know.

I love to write. I think I’m even reasonably good at it (though there is plenty of room for improvement, particularly in plotting), but the self-doubt trolls have been throwing a party inside my skull for months now. Given the vast list of other things I have to do every day, though, writing tends to slip to the bottom of the list, until I have no mental fortitude left for the creativity. And the longer I let making inroads on my WIP slip, the harder it gets to force myself back into that headspace.

Every once in a while I manage to latch onto a new idea that has potential to become something useful in my story. For a few minutes (maybe hours, or—if I’m super lucky—days) I feel that spark again, and think there might be hope for my poor novel yet. But then I have to go get groceries, or take my kids to music lessons, or pay bills, or any of a hundred other things that come with being the chatelaine of the estate (that’s how I try to think of it; it makes me feel better than considering myself a “homemaker”).

If I’ve learned anything about myself since I started writing fiction, it’s that I need long stretches of time to dedicate to writing. It takes me an inordinate amount of time to settle into the proper headspace, and if something interrupts me, I have to start the process all over. That’s a tricky thing to have to balance with chatelaine duties.

I keep finding myself hoping things will improve once school starts back up for my kids, but a tiny, nasty part of my brain keeps whispering that it won’t help. I read about what some of the Writers I follow on social media—Authors, even—do in order to carve out their writing time, and I think, “I’ll never have that kind of glorious obsession.” I don’t think I have the temperament to work that way.

So I wonder if there will ever be room for a person like me—distractible, painfully slow, far from young, and without a writing workshop or publication credit to my name (to date)—in the meat grinder that is the publishing industry. Maybe there isn’t.

Then again, maybe there is, even if I have to play the part of the Tortoise. All I can do is “keep on keepin’ on” (as my mother would say) and hope that by continuing to be a writer (which I can’t help) that someday I can be a Writer. And if not, then at least I haven’t let the self-doubt trolls trample me to death.

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