I'm a writer, you'd say, and I'd think, Well, when was your novel published? Or have your essays appeared in The New Yorker? No? Well then you are middle aged, likely recently divorced, and have been reading Julia Cameron.
Then last month I told some friends of ours—good friends: people we see every week—about the poem that was accepted for publication this winter*, and they were surprised. Have you always liked to write? they asked. Subtext: You write? Really?
Well, yes. I write. Have scrawled in notebooks ever since I discovered that spiral-bounds could be purchased by the stack at the grocery store. Have considered it a practice ever since I ripped through Writing Down the Bones in a public library armchair one Saturday in high school. The best part of my job is the writing. The best part of my plans is what I'll write next.
And yet, somehow, my writing is a surprise to the best of my friends. How can I have kept this a secret?
Trying to bring in a little extra income, I'm working on picking up some contract writing jobs. Newsletters, brochures, whatever editing work I can find. Part of getting this going is updating my résumé. Opening a separate business checking account. Making business cards. On those cards and those new checks, I'm having printed, under my name, Writer. Call me middle aged. (I'm 34, thanks.) Say it's wishful thinking. Damn the self-help books. Question my credentials. Whatever. I write. Have always written. Will always. Am, have been, and really always plan to be. A writer.
*Accepted for the spring issue of this journal, and it's still not out. Come on! Spring is here! Even in Minnesota!