The Others Are Writers, Not Me

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Christine Organ is a writer and blogger who lives in the hip and happening suburbs of Chicago. She is a part-time freelance writer. Full-time SAHM to two rambunctious little boys. Adoring wife of her rock-solid husband. Owner of two sometimes-naughty-but-always-cute dogs. She blogs at Random Reflectionz about life, love, and humanity – and everything in between. She is currently seeking an agent and/or publisher for her first book, “Swimming Upstream: Embarking on an Authentic Faith Journey,” and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

The desire to write grows with writing. 
- Desiderius Erasmus

Am I a writer?

No, I don’t think so. Sure, I write. But, I am not a writer. The others are writers, not me.
A writer is the journalist who lives a glamorous lifestyle traversing the globe unearthing gritty stories. A writer is the essayist whose byline appears in glossy magazines like The New Yorker and The Atlantic, or even trashy rags like People and Us Weekly. A writer is the novelist whose printed books boast stunning covers and catchy titles and sit atop shelves of bookstores and libraries. A writer is the blogger with thousands of followers and expensive ad space.

Me, a writer? No, definitely not.

I’m just someone who realized as a law student, and later as a young lawyer, that I had a knack for writing legal briefs and memos coherently and without unnecessary legalese. I’m just someone who later moved on to a job at which I wrote legal marketing materials and the occasional client memo. I’m just someone who now has a part-time freelance writing gig. I’m just someone who blogs and has a complete manuscript for my first book saved to my computer’s hard drive. I’m just someone who writes. A lot.

I write and I write and I write. I write when I’m at the computer. I write when I’m awake in the middle of the night and can’t sleep.

I write for the mental stimulation. I write for the money. I write for the entertainment. I write for the peace of mind. I write and I write and I write.

If I’m spending all this time and mental energy writing, could that mean that maybe I am actually a writer?

If I write, but I am not wildly successful, does that mean that I’m not really a writer? If editors and agents aren’t banging down my door, does that mean that I’m just an unsuccessful writer? If my pieces aren’t glittering the pages of highbrow magazines or featured on websites like HuffPost, does that mean that I’m just a writer wanna-be, destined to worship the “real” writers from afar?

When I considered Erin’s call to write about my writer roots, I initially struggled with the idea of considering myself a writer. I hesitate to call myself a writer. The others are writers, not me. I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. And I just happen to spend a fair amount of time writing.

As I struggled with the concept of what it means to be a writer and how it relates to my writing roots, it dawned on me that I may have always been a writer, preferring to express myself with the written word over the spoken. As a lawyer, I could develop winning legal arguments on paper, but had difficulty articulating the same ideas in conversation. As a wife, I can write long, almost poetic, love letters to my husband, but have a harder time getting my point across when looking into his eyes. As a friend, I maintain many committed friendships via the exchange of lengthy emails, but I despise talking on the phone.

I started blogging about six months ago as the platform for a manuscript of a religious memoir that I hope to publish one day. But in the past six months of blogging, writing has fed my soul and held me to a higher state of accountability than I would have imagined. And not long ago, I realized that, for as long as I can remember, I have been a mental writer, crafting stories, dialogue, and sentence structures in my mind.

As I consider my writing roots and what it means to be a writer, I realize that maybe we are what we choose to identify with and how we choose to define ourselves. We are more than those characteristics that can be measured by conventional standards of success. Rather, we are an amalgamation of those activities and roles that fulfill us, sustain us, inspire us, and feed our soul.

I write, and my desire to write grows.

I write, and my skills are sharpened.

I write, and my techniques are polished.

I write, and my soul is fulfilled, my mind awakened, my body energized.

So, am I a writer? You bet I am.

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  • Julia Munroe Martin

    This really strikes home — those nagging self doubts, that small voice. I’ve always hesitated to call myself a writer (even though I’ve written professionally for tech and business clients and I now blog and write fiction) but I’m not one of those well-published essayists or published novelist or even a big-time blogger. But yes, like you I’m a writer, too.

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      It sounds like we have incredibly similar experiences, writing backgrounds, and confidence struggles. Best of luck to you! We writers need to stick together.

  • Megan Gordon

    I laughed when I read that you write long emails to your friends but hate to talk on the phone. Me too!
    I’ve been calling myself a writer for almost my entire professional like. I get paid to write, yet I don’t feel like I’m a writer for all the reasons you mentioned. I need a byline, my printed words in a publication not of my own making for that realization to hit me, I think.
    But a writer writes, does she not?

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      You said it!

  • http://twitter.com/shoshuga Shosh Martyniak

    been a writer, preferring to express myself with the written word over the spoken. As a lawyer, I could develop winning legal arguments on paper, but had difficulty articulating the same ideas in conversation. As a wife, I can write long, almost poetic, love letters to my husband, but have a harder time getting my point across when looking into his eyes. As a friend, I maintain many committed friendships via the exchange of lengthy emails, but I despise talking on the phone.— yes yes yes!!! You are exactly right. If writing is the best way to express yourself then there isn’t anything else you can call yourself.
    There is a great Ani Difranco song where she says: “Art is why I get up in the morning but my definition ends there and it doesn’t seem fair. I’m living for something I can’t even define.”
    Maybe I’m wrong, but other artists don’t question being artists–why should we?

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      Well said. Thank you for your insightful comments and support.

  • Chaunie@TinyBlueLines

    Oh, I just loved this–exactly how I feel. I just signed a contract for my first book and I *still* don’t feel like “real” writer…I have every excuse as to why my writing doesn’t really count…

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      Super big congrats on the book deal. That’s fantastic. I am completely overwhelmed with the process of trying to get my book published so if you have any suggestions or advice, I am all ears.

  • Julie

    Love this!!

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      Thank you so much, Julie.

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    So glad you finally came to the conclusion that you ARE a writer! Phew! ;-)

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      Thanks, Elaine.

  • Lance

    You’re a writer. And a good one.

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      Thank you so much, Lance. You have made my day.

  • http://twitter.com/wickedjava Mike Dougherty

    I LOVE this! This is exactly the same feelings I go through internally every day. More so when someone asks “So…you’re a writer?” Thank you for bravely putting into words the very feelings that some of us wrestle with quietly every day.

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      Thank YOU for reading and sharing your perspective. It’s amazing how many of us feel this way. And here I thought it was just me :-)

  • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

    Thanks so much for hosting me, Erin! What a great opportunity. And your readers are so fantastically supportive.

  • http://www.iasoupmama.com/ IASoupMama

    Yes, you are a writer — no doubt about it! Man, those pesky words dancin’ all over our brains, trying to jump onto the page. If you’ve got that symptom there is no question that you are a writer.

    • http://twitter.com/christineorgan Christine Organ

      You said it.

  • http://www.reedmywriting.com/ JR Reed

    You’re a rad writer. Trust me on this one.