Am I a Writer?
I've never referred to myself as a writer. Perhaps that is because I have a very specific idea of what a writer is which I don't feel I fit into. I find writing to be valuable and enjoyable, but I've attempted to stay realistic about my skill-level which I consider to be average. Can you really call yourself a writer if you didn't major in English or pursue a full-time writing career of some sort?
Truthfully, I didn't pursue an English major in college because I felt I wasn't good enough. My grammar and spelling skills were atrocious as a child and though they improved with practice, that weak foundation has always felt like an academic handicap to me. I also find that my mind gets ahead of my fingers interchanging words or sometimes leaving them out altogether (which is at least in part due to a mild learning disability). Thanks to writing intensive high school and college experiences, I know that I have developed into a decent writer. Still, I have this notion that great writers just have it in them naturally and don't have to work so hard at it. I continue to write not because I think I'm going to get a book deal, but because I enjoy it and find it to be personally enriching. It's a great way to sort out thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
Academically I still chose a writing intensive major: Humanities (one third Philosophy, History & English with my concentration in History). Outside of the English department writing was more focused on content than technique. As a result, the writing style I am best at is essay writing. I was always good at developing an argument, researching and synthesizing information, and editing.
So while I've never thought of myself as "a writer" I have spent the better part of the last decade writing and technically speaking I am a professional writer. Perhaps not in title, but certainly in practice. Research and writing is the bulk of what I do as a legal assistant at a law firm. I am required to research issues, write briefs in which I develop and articulate arguments, document (cite) those arguments, and edit the final product before final submission.
Basically my career requires a ton of writing and a great deal of my free time is spent writing (blogging, devotionals, press releases, content writing, etc) as well.
So you know what? I am a writer. I'm just not a creative writer, which is what I picture when I think "writer." I've never once written a complete piece of fiction. I've had ideas, I've dabbled in song writing, I've written fragments of stories down, but creative writing is outside my comfort zone.
I envy creative writers. Professional and academic writing requires a commitment to your position and documenting it. Sometimes I just want to write something beautiful or say something meaningful without having to defend it. I want to hide behind the metaphors.
So, I am. I am stretching myself as a writer and it's absolutely terrifying (in an exciting way).
I am finding resources to help me practice writing more creatively and I am letting others into the process.
This is WAY outside my writing comfort zone. I know that if I want to be a better writer I have to take on challenges that put my weaknesses on display. Sometimes the path to good writing is paved with bad writing. Sometimes if you want to improve you have to let others critique and encourage you. For someone whose greatest fear is not snakes or heights, but humiliation---this is quite difficult for me. If I admit that maybe this is something I love and want to pursue then it will hurt all the more if I fail.
As my husband can attest to, I don't enjoy learning new things if I'm not at least a little bit good at them first. I have thrown a game controller across the room more than once and still refuse to play games that aren't made for Nintendo. So I obviously think I have the potential to grow in this area or I probably wouldn't take it on. Still, it's new to me. And scary or not, it's going to be fun!