Me? A Writer?

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KeAnne Hoeg

 

 

 

 

 

KeAnne straddles the world of IT and marketing at large university.  After work, she can be found chasing her 3-year-old son, herding cats (literally), attempting to read and watching the Food Network obsessively with her husband. She considers Twitter part of her job and explores the sacred, profane and all points in between on her blog Family Building with a Twist.

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When I was in elementary school, I wrote a book of fairy tales full of beautiful princesses with elaborate names like “Esmeralda” and “Melody,” dashing princes, fairies and quests.

When I was in junior high, I wrote pretty bad short stories about beautiful, smart girls who somehow managed to attract the most popular boys in school despite not being in the popular clique.

In high school, my writing turned more introspective. I still gifted my characters with outlandish names like “Tierney” or “Evangeline,” but my focus became darker as there was usually one lonely teenager who was left out  -  not excluded, but not as cherished as she believed others to be.  The people I knew began to creep into my writing as well as I wrote character sketches in which I tried to analyze their behavior and motivations.

I wrote because stories appeared in my head and begged to be released.  I wrote because it was more fluent than my speech. I wrote because if I didn’t, all my anxieties and worries and thoughts stayed bottled up inside my brain, and writing was therapy.  Writing acted as a crucible for me, taking garbled thoughts and ideas and turning them into something refined and clear as I struggled to get them on paper.

My writing was wish fulfillment.  My writing was escape.  My writing was sense-making.  Despite my obvious need to put pen to paper, I never called myself a writer nor wanted to be one.  Writing was something I did; I never examined my motivations closely.

In college and beyond, instead of fantasy and introspection, I wrote essays and arguments.  I wrote a Master’s paper. I walled off the part of my brain that begged to think and write freely.  Despite implementing and managing a blog at work, I never wrote for it because I didn’t think I had anything to say or worth saying. My days of writing for pleasure were behind me.

There were a few cracks in that wall, however.  My semi-anonymous infertility blog provided me with the outlet I needed for the dark days of failed treatments, thoughtless comments and despair I felt.  It helped me pour out all the bitterness inside me and helped me to connect with other women with infertility.  Though lonely and isolated in real life, my blog helped me find an online community, understanding and support, support that nurtured me as we began to consider the ins and outs of gestational surrogacy, our longed-for positive beta and finally the birth of our son.

Last August I turned in my Master’s Paper and graduated from grad school after five years as a part-time student.  My son was now two and I found myself for the first time in years with the chance to pursue a hobby. I wanted to blog. Write. As I re-engaged with the wider world, the words tumbled out. That wall I had built crumbled down with every post I wrote, and post ideas multiplied and tussled for supremacy in my head.  Blog post begat blog post, and I started to look for more opportunities to write.  The itch, the need, was back.

I may be a blogger, but am I a writer?  Is what I do on my tiny corner of the Internet writing? Are people who get paid to write the only ones allowed to call themselves writers? Or is being a writer a state of mind?

I don’t know any definitive answers to those questions, but I do know that a writer is simply someone who writes. I write; therefore, I am a writer. I may never be paid to write a word and I’m fine with that.  As long as I have my blog, my tiny room of my own, on which to write, I will proudly call myself a writer. Finally.

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  • http://twitter.com/ashleytaylor76 The Dose of Reality

    I often find myself making the distinction that I am a blogger, not a writer. And I will usually say something self-deprecating about how I read real writers all the time, so I know the difference. But you are totally right here…a writer is someone who writes. I will remember that.
    I love your description of your stories throughout your life…I also tended toward the fantasy names, as well. :)

    • http://twitter.com/KeAnne KeAnne

      Thank you. I think maybe all of us need to get better at distinguishing between blogging as the platform and writing as what we do on that platform. Maybe then we can start thinking of ourselves as writers.

  • Pingback: What Makes a Writer? « Family Building With a Twist

  • http://twitter.com/Reedster2 Cindy Reed

    Love this Keanne & Erin! I
    struggle too with this question – Am I a writer. I mean, I write stuff,
    but being a “writer” seems like it requires more – you know, like
    attending a writer’s colony or something. Great post putting into words
    self-doubt bursting into owning the word.

    • http://twitter.com/KeAnne KeAnne

      I think our reluctance, our fear to claim “writer” for ourselves illustrates how much we revere writers in our culture. Maybe it’s because for hundreds of years only a very, very few people were able to write whether it was because they were the only ones who literally knew how to write or because they had access to the means of publication, but now, writing is much more egalitarian, so maybe it’s time to let go of outdated notions of what or who a writer is.

  • http://twitter.com/GDRPempress Good Day, Reg People

    I love this post because I have grown into this like frame of mind.

    I used to believe that to be a writer, you had to be published: hard copy style.

    Now, I think of myself and those like me that spend hours a week writing, writers.

    If I biked this many hours a week, I’d have no problem calling myself a biker.

    I am a writer.

    Lovely post.

    • http://twitter.com/KeAnne KeAnne

      Thank you so much! That is high praise coming from you :-) The biker example is great, and you’re right that we wouldn’t hesitate owning other terms if we spent that much time doing them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/justine.levine Justine Hernandez Levine

    Love this, KeAnne. And YES, you are a writer. It’s funny how much weight we give to that term, isn’t it? Like we have to earn it. And in some respects we do … but not in the eyes of anyone but ourselves.

    I have a similar story. But … I’d love to have someone pay me for my writing. Because despite what I JUST WROTE, I have this thing about external validation. It’s a weakness. ;)

    • http://twitter.com/KeAnne KeAnne

      Thank you! Yes, it is funny how certain words seem off limits. I could definitely see you being paid for your writing.

  • http://twitter.com/writingherlife Ami Spencer

    Love, love, love this. Claim it! :)

  • Kate Coveny Hood

    I needed to read something like this – thank you! I didn’t write anything that wasn’t for school or work (and definitely nothing remotely creative) before starting my blog is 2008. And for some reason I’ve felt less and less like a “writer” every year. Shouldn’t it be the opposite!? I could write more about that…but the real point I wanted to make is that this was somewhat of a virtual shoulder shake (“snap out of it – consider another perspective!”) and I’m grateful for that.

    • http://twitter.com/KeAnne KeAnne

      I’m so glad it helped you!

  • Pamela

    Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/2manyfish2fry Too Many Fish to Fry

    Great post, Keanne. Writing as a crucible to understanding life: yes. I love how you use writing to process what’s happening in your life, from a young age to now as a parent.

    It’s true: most of us equate a book deal with being a writer, but I like your point here that we shouldn’t limit the definition.

    • http://twitter.com/KeAnne KeAnne

      It is a game changer to think of writing more broadly, but I think it’s a necessity.