In my mind a writer is a very elusive figure. This figure comprises of a number of writers and clichés of writers that I have known growing up. I picture the beat poets, dressed in black and smoking. I picture Jane Austen sitting at her desk in her English country home. I picture journalists with their flip notebooks, in button down shirts and comfortable dress shoes. I picture Colin Firth in Love Actually, wearing an incredibly comfortable-looking knit sweater and poised by a typewriter in a romantic setting. I picture a team of writers in sweatpants at SNL at 4 am eating weird food. And yes, I picture Carrie Bradshaw, smoking outside her window while the cursor of her black MacBook blinks.
I do not picture myself.
Now that I am armed with an English degree, a Moleskine notebook, and the experience of writing for my university arts magazine and an online publication, am I a writer?
I like to watch people, observe their patterns and jot down notes. Does that make me a writer? (Or just a cliché?)
I’ve kept a diary since the age of nine, always resorting to writing down my thoughts as a therapeutic activity. Does that mean I am a writer?
To me, identifying as a writer feels like lying about being a member of an exclusive club. I’m wearing the dinner jacket, I’ve got my pin- Is this how it works? If you can believe it, I am not actually a member of an exclusive club – but I do not possess the innate characteristics that my fellow members can detect is missing in me.
Identifying as a writer also reminds me of other momental events in my life that, when I first declared them aloud, felt foreign and wrong but were really dreams coming true. A moment like the first time I was going to live in Europe. Every time I told someone, I felt like I jinxed its reality. I thought there would be a cancellation that would prevent me from fulfilling this too-good-to-be-true dream. Another moment like this is the first time I introduced my boyfriend as “my boyfriend.” I felt like I was lying! All the build-up and years of teenaged pining for a boyfriend came true. It felt too easy to say. But I wasn’t lying. He exists. And I also made it to Europe.
Boyfriends, travelling…these were dreams of mine for a very long time. Unlike Joni’s belief, these dreams did not lose their grandeur coming true. They just felt…unbelievable. And when they did come true, they were an evolution of my imagined ideas of them. They included the indescribable, tiny, mundane details of their everydayness. That’s what made them real. And real is good.
Writing, always present in my life but never the career I pictured myself in, was perhaps a more secretive dream of mine. So yes, I guess I am a writer. Will this be my career? Maybe. Unlike a lawyer, where you pass your bar and get a big, fancy degree from law school, transitioning into a career as a writer seems less momentous and more like something you have to say to yourself repeatedly until it feels real. I guess that will have to do and I will just have to keep, well, writing!