I was at church the other day, when I happened to spot my friend Heather. I walked up to her and gave her a hug, as I tend to do. She hugged me back, then turned to one of her friends who was visiting.
"This is my friend Ruth," she said happily. "She's a writer!"
For some completely bizarre reason, this caught me off guard. I think I did a double, perhaps even a triple take before finally nodding to Heather's friend. "Yes," I replied uncertainly. "I'm a writer."
I've been writing since I was about eight years old. True, I've only been seriously writing for the past nine years or so. I've only been actively writing for the past four years or so. I've only been purposefully writing for the past two years or so. Even so, I should be well accustomed to the fact that, yes, I am a writer.
The thing is, when I meet new people, I don't typically introduce myself as a writer. If they ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I work with kids. Maybe, if we talk long enough, I'll mention my writing. I wonder why that is.
There's probably several explanations. I don't always like the reactions I get from people when they first learn I'm a writer. Some are really nice about it, and some TRY to be nice and fail. What bothers me the most is when people hear I'm a writer and immediately say, "Oh, wow! Will you let me read your stuff?"
Um...that just makes me feel as though that people think I'm not ever going to be published. Yes, you can absolutely read my stuff, once it's available for the you and the rest of the world to read. Ugh, seriously...it's such an awkward question for an aspiring writer to be asked. It's almost as awkward as the question, "So what do you write about?" Shudder.
I think another reason why I don't automatically tell people I'm a writer is that I'm still getting into this mindset that this is the life I want. I want to be a writer--nay, I want to be an author. The two words carry slightly different meanings. I can be a writer right now, but I can't truly be an author until I've gotten something published. And honestly, the idea of being an author, while exhiliarating, is also quite frightening. It's work; real work. I didn't really understand that until I started looking into it. Even if I snag an agent, I'm going to have to continuously write and meticulously edit and probably do some publicity/marketing stuff--yikes. I have no idea what it all involves, because I'm not there yet.
But I need to get into that mindset.
So my challenge for myself is that I won't be surprised when friends introduce me to people as "a writer." ...in fact, I'm going to take that one step further and try to introduce myself as a writer. It's part of my identity, and I really need to start acting like it.