What makes a writer a writer?
Is it that they have three dozen notebooks full of story ideas? Or thirteen unfinished novel drafts in the drawer? Or maybe it’s the way they think about words so much of the time? Are they the ones with the extensive vocabulary? Or perhaps I’m on entirely the wrong track?
I have a counselor friend who has made it one of his missions getting me to loudly and boldly proclaim that “I Am A Writer!”. I only noticed this a few days ago but as soon as I saw it I knew he’d been at it for weeks. We have deep, introspective conversations about my life journeys and writing has come up in the last few months as a significant passion of mine. But with a certain special group of friends I call myself a storyteller because that’s what kind of writer I am aspiring to be.
We don’t tell enough of the right kind of stories in this day and age. Story telling is how children know that monsters can be defeated. Story telling is how the handsome prince knows to go looking for his fortune. Story telling is how the princess knows the prince loves her. Story telling is how we shape our culture and the lives of those that come after us. Story telling is what I’m doing right now.
My sister has picked up on it, too. I was fumbling through an introduction with one of her arty friends a few months ago and she overrode me with “You’re a writer”. She will probably not remember the accolade, but I do. I’ve helped my sister learn how to write university essays in the last few years and can see her getting better. She may not see that her art essays necessarily tell a story, but it is writing and like all essays, there is a narrative.
But my counselor friend is on the money: I shouldn’t need other people to categorise me as a writer for me to accept it. I should be able to identify as that by myself. And I’m a writer because I write.
So how do you know you’re a writer?