There’s a comedy skit where a would-be writer moves in to an apartment next to noisy neighbors. When they get too loud, he calls the cops, protesting weakly, “I’m trying to write in here! I’m a writer!”
It’s an inside joke between me and my brother – we say it to each other when I’m talking about writing-related business. There’s always been a little part of me, though, that believes I am that stereotype – the whiny dilettante that always tells everyone how I do some writing work, or want to, hope to, would really like to be a writer.
My husband put up a permanent note on my desktop that reads “You are a writer…so write!” I see it every time I turn on my computer. And he’s right. I’ve written since I was a kid. When my best friend and I were teenagers talking about the future and she didn’t know what she wanted to be, I always did. I studied English and writing in college. My first post-college job was a business writing job. Then I floundered for awhile, doing restaurant and secretary work, but always, when anyone asked, I said I was doing such and such, but what I really wanted to do was write.
My problem was that I needed to get over myself. I love Dave Eggers, and I thought that if I hadn’t published a critically acclaimed book by the time I was in my early twenties like him, I was washed up. That mindset was so much pride. Of course, like any artist or creative person, I want my work to find an audience. Beauty wants to be beheld, not kept hidden. But writing only for the sake of publishing, or making money, or earning accolades will rarely produce good work. These days, I want to write for a living because I love it – from editing small details to creating something entirely new – and I want to do it all the time.
And finally, after years of part-time, piecemeal, freelance work, it looks like I might be able to do that. I’ve got more work coming in than ever before. So much, in fact, that I started my own business, something else I thought might never actually happen. Yup. M. M. Parker Writing & Editing, LLC. Registered in the state of Maryland. A little scary and a lot exciting all at the same time.
It’s ok – and actually healthy – to claim one’s talents and name one’s identity. I am a writer. It’s who I am. It’s how I see the world and how I live my life. The only difference is … now it’s in writing. Pun intended.