Holy Shit, I’m a Writer!

I’ve taken a leap into the abyss. And it’s terrifying and exhilarating and a bit insane.  I am a writer. I need to remind myself of this fact several times a day, but it’s my new mantra. “I am a writer.” “I am a writer.” “I am a writer.”

I’ve gradually become more comfortable telling people I’m a writer when they ask me what I do. I’ve progressed to the point where I can even say it with a straight face.

It’s taken me months to start chipping away at the self-doubt that has prevented me from embracing my new professional identity. My internal conversations have followed a script similar to this one:

Insecure Me: How can I be a writer if I haven’t published anything?  

Confident Me: Plenty of writers haven’t published anything. You have to write something before you can be published, no?

Insecure Me: How can I be a writer if I’ve barely earned money from my writing?

Confident Me:  Welcome to a very large non-exclusive club. Besides, ‘barely’ doesn’t mean nothing. You’ve started to earn some money from your writing.

Insecure Me: My personal essays aren’t compelling enough or moving enough or eloquent enough or unique enough or funny enough to be of interest to anyone but me (and my husband and Chloe and Sophie and my mom, because they’re polite and don’t want to piss me off).

Confident Me:  You need to stop denigrating your talents. Your writing is accessible and authentic and warm and often funny.  Don’t let everything you read on the Internet fool you into thinking your stories aren’t up to snuff.

Insecure Me: The primary reason I quit my job was to spend more time with my girls. But I also walked away from my career to focus on my writing. For too long, I treated my writing as a hobby.  But it’s not a hobby anymore and I don’t want others to treat my writing as a quaint pastime.

Confident Me: If you treat your writing as a profession and you take yourself seriously, others will begin to take you seriously, too. 

Writing touches almost all aspects of my life. I have my blog. I love its new look. While traffic to the site is still modest by any rational standard, its audience is noticeably and steadily growing.

I have a new freelance gig. The work is in my wheelhouse and I enjoy it immensely.  I hope it will lead to other gigs.  I’m in no rush. I’m taking the time to map out the terrain.  I compare myself to the tortoise in Aesop’s fable – slow and steady.

I’ve written a draft YA novel that has a promising premise and might someday evolve into a book worth reading if I devote more time to it. Another story idea has been simmering in the far recesses of my brain for a couple of years. It will be great fun to write if I ever figure out the mechanics of the plot.

Over the past several months, I’ve spent increasing amounts of time typing away. I write at the local Panera when the house and the dog are too distracting (this sounds ridiculously ironic, I know. Going to a frenetic bakery-cafe to write? Trust me, it works). I write in bed. I write at my desk at home. I write in the Notes app of my iPhone.

I also frequently write in my head. While driving. While reading. While eating. While food shopping. While taking baths. While helping Sophie with her homework. While walking Truffle. While watching movies. While listening to music. While falling asleep.

Through various online writing communities, I’ve discovered some fantastic and inspiring women writers and have learned a great deal about crafting a career out of the written word.

When I told Chloe about my new freelance project and the enlightening writers symposium I attended yesterday, her eyes grew wide. Those two modest events in my writing life caused a subtle shift in her perception of me, I think.  For Chloe, writing is the epitome of cool. I sensed the cogs in her brain turning:  “Wow. My mom is a writer. For reals!”

Hell, yes.

I am a writer and writing is what I do.






12 thoughts on “Holy Shit, I’m a Writer!”

  1. Great post, Jennifer! Thank you. I feel very much the same, though I think Insecure Me still tends to win more often than not. It’s very difficult. Progress is good. 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading, Renee. I think I just got to the point where I was getting sick of not knowing how to define my day-to-day life outside of motherhood. I still think my insecure self will carry the day from time to time, but if I don’t own ‘writer’ now, then when?

  2. It’s an ongoing struggle for many writers. At what point are you REALLY a writer – after a manuscript is completed, accepted, published? Do you need to have two published to make sure it wasn’t just luck?

    It’s a really empowering moment when you can say out loud ‘I am a writer’ and as you said, once you take yourself seriously and treat your writing as a profession, others will too.

    Good luck with your writing journey.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Susan. It truly is a struggle, especially since for so many of us, our writing doesn’t always lead to the tangible results (book, bylined article, screenplay, etc.) that others generally use to define someone as a writer. Good luck to you, too!

  3. I completely relate to your post! I took time off from devoting to my writing career (which hadn’t really started in any professional sense) when I got pregnant with my daughter. I stayed home with her and now she is in the first grade. Since she started school, I have written a novella, started a blog, and had a couple of things published freelance. I wrote a picture book and had it illustrated and am currently seeking publication. I sit down at my desk every day and write. Yet still, when I am asked what I do and I say writer, the next question is invariably, “Oh, what have you had published?” It seems other people won’t take me as seriously as I take myself until I’ve gotten some paid work and some more publication credits under my belt. It takes courage to claim your title as a Writer, and I applaud your courage!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kerri. I am sure I will be flummoxed, too, when someone asks me that question. But I just reached the point where I realized I need to try the “writer” label on for size. Like you, writing takes up most of my waking hours (other than being a mom) – paid or not. I’ve accomplished more with my writing over the past year than I accomplished in a couple of decades. If that doesn’t merit “writer” (paid or not, bestseller or not), I don’t know what does. Good luck to you, Kerri, fellow Writer!

  4. I definitely understand this post! Fantastic representation of a writer’s struggles to figure out if they are or are not in fact a writer. Very fun!

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