My Writing Identity

(This was a short essay I wrote for my Creative Writing Club.)

When I was younger, all I wanted to be was a famous author. After reading novels like James and the Giant Peach or Harry Potter and learning that younger people could publish too, I focused on writing chapter books that would one day fill libraries everywhere. And because of this, I felt that to be a writer, you should write at least one novel in your career. So, that was my goal and that was what consisted of most of my “writing practice”: to write long chapter books. Every summer since the 2nd grade I’d sit down after consuming dozens of books from my local public library to write the “next great novel.” Needless to say, it never happened. I was a terrible planner; the process took too long and all I wanted to do was jump into the action. But without a plan, the gas eventually ran out somewhere in the pages of chapter five. Even though I was never successful, I continued to think I’d write that best seller novel one day.

One year I attended a creative writing class for a summer studies program, and the scope with which I looked at writing was reshaped drastically. I was exposed to the world of short stories and poetry, and how to elevate one’s writing and make it three dimensional. From it I found that I really enjoyed penning poems. My writing style loosened from the rigid molds of styles I was trying to imitate, and I was beginning to meet myself in my writing. It wasn’t just about trying to be published anymore—it was about writing, too! And even though I began to take greater pride in my poetry, I struggled to call myself a “poet.” I didn’t really fit the model—someone once told me that to be a deep poet, I had to be sad and depressed, emotionally bruised and hurt. I wasn’t really any of those things. So, was I not a poet, then? Watching Spoken Word, I would see people write dark and deeply emotional free style pieces, delivering lines of loneliness, depression and anxiety rapidly, with eruption of “snaps” following. Colorful stories detailed in carefully selected syllables filled my ears. As much as I was awed by their works, I had never endured any of what they endured. I wanted to be a poet, though, so I tried to write dark stuff too. But I never felt or believed in what I was writing, and it began to fall by the wayside.

I bounced back to the effort of writing a novel. I started projects up again, but I always became deterred if I tried to begin one with a plan. For some novels, I would get farther if I had the exposition and the ending in mind, but I’d run out of steam without the knowledge of what to write in the middle. I’d dabble in poetry, too, continuing to write with a darker tone than what I really felt. I was trying too hard to entertain the definition of “deep” in my works. At this point, a few years ago, I didn’t know what I was. Was I writer? A poet? I didn’t feel like I was doing anything right. And there was my problem.

In the process of trying to validate myself as a writer by forcing myself to do something I didn’t really enjoy, I was preventing myself from exploring as a writer. I was drowning in the fear of labels with the belief I could only be something if it had a label. But the thing is, being a writer doesn’t work in one way. Being a poet doesn’t work in one way either. I regained my enjoyment of writing poetry, finding the ability to abandon my worries about what a poet looks like. Poetry doesn’t take one shape, and it’s not driven by just one tone. We forget that just because we don’t perform the exact way another writer does, it doesn’t mean we are not just as a valid. The challenge of identity was one I struggled with. What kind of writer do I want to be? How will I be that writer? I’ve decided to not label myself. I’m not a novelist, a short story writer, or really a poet. I just enjoy writing in those forms, but I don’t concentrate myself in one area.

I’ve decided to just label myself a writer. Because a writer writes, and that is what I do.

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20 thoughts on “My Writing Identity

  1. Aww, so beautiful! I agree. My dream is to be a published author, who makes enough money to support herself on something she loves. (Okay, that was weird speaking in third person.) I know that I want to be a novelist, but what you said is write. I mean, right. 😉 If you write, you’re a writer, and that’s all that really matters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, May! I think it’s a fabulous dream of yours–definitely keep working towards it, but always be open to other options. I don’t know how old you are, but I’ve learned that sometimes as we grow older our interests become more defined and they may change. However, I wish you the very best in your writing endeavors! I hope to see a book of yours in stores everywhere 😉 Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing, Grace. Such a great, honest piece. I really appreciated the comment you left on my blog, encouraging me with my dreams, hopes and aspirations. I’d like to do the same for you. I know you’ll be an incredible writer because every time I read one of your posts it’s eloquent and heartfelt.

    As a blogger, I feel you get the balance of fun and serious perfectly. I struggle with writing heavy content and not enough light-hearted stuff.

    Keep it up!

    ~Gracie~ from A Light In The Darkness

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gracie ❤ I really appreciate your encouragement, your words mean so much! In regard to your final statement, I think you are doing just fine. It really depends on the focus of your blog, how much balance you want to have. For me, this blog is really anything that comes from within. I don't really have any defined purpose other than to connect with people, just like you!
      Your content is really motivating, and I really appreciate the serious perspective you provide. It's not only very refreshing and educational (I learn so much from your blog!) but it reflects who you are, and that is what your blog should be doing 🙂 Keep up the good work on your own blog, Gracie, and on your dreams! I am supporting you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so welcome, Grace. You are a truly incredible person to sit down and write such beautiful comments. I’m glad you enjoy my posts, but I may let a little more fun and laughter creep into my posts in the future. You’re totally right though, it does reflect my personality, I really do want to make a difference in the world.

        Thank you again and I’m so lucky to have such supporting followers and readers.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, yes, finding your writing identity is a struggle! I love writing poetry, but I always write about … clouds or weather or stuff. I never write about deep emotional angst and all that. In fact, I prefer writing somewhat comically. This doesn’t seem to be very popular right now … but I can’t change the way I write just to please other people! “To thine ownself be true,” as Shakespeare would say. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kellyn, your poetry is so nice to read! If you ever want, I once did a poetry workshop with a few bloggers (Misty being one of them! Isn’t she so talented at poetry?!) and we would post our poems in a Google doc and get feedback from each other. It was so much fun and a great way to learn from each other 🙂 Always looking for some more poet buddies!
      Definitely! You couldn’t be more right! Keep writing in styles you love–I love comical works–there really is only so much emotional and heavy content one can absorb. I’ll take some light-hearted limericks any day! Thank you for reading and the kind comment, Kellyn

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to do something like that someday! Honestly, I always wanted to be a poet long before I wanted to be a writer … but I kinda gave up that dream. I wonder if something like that would help revive it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great! I totally know what you mean–I often wonder if I really dug my heels in and wrote a novel, I might find myself really enjoying it (I used to like it, but of course since I never finished one I just gave up). Let me know if you ever want to participate in something like that! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never finished a novel until NaNoWriMo, but then I thrive in routine and not many people do! 🙂
        If you’re doing something like that, I’d love to be a part of it. I really want to get serious about poetry. I mean, not write serious poetry but get serious about writing poetry that describes weather and stuff. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Grace, awesome post! Something that’s kept me writing and made me rethink a lot of those old writing cliches about the suffering or starving artist is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really recommend reading it if you get a chance.

    And yes, a writer writes. It seems obvious sometimes, but that is all it is. You may have tons of creativity and talent, but if you don’t sit down every day and put in the work of writing, you’ll never move forward. Seems like you’re already on the right track! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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