I dimly recall a line from Friends, ages ago. Joey’s Dad asked him if he had ever been in love. “I dunno”, was the uncomfortable response. “Then you haven’t.”
More than once, I’ve seen a similar sentiment expressed about being a writer. If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re a writer – you aren’t a writer. Are you writing every day? Do you find it almost impossible to stop writing? No? Then you should probably consider some other job, or hobby.
I don’t write very much. No fiction leaves the inside of my head, and I haven’t done much creative writing professionally for a while. I haven’t been a magazine journalist for, what, ten years?
I read comments by writers about how consuming and irresistible the urge to write is, and I used it as an excuse. I don’t feel that way, so I guess I’m not a ‘proper’ writer. I don’t know what else I am, or could be, but that’s one thing crossed off the list.
Then, later, almost out of nowhere, I remembered those words and I got really pissed off. I am a writer. Fuck you. I may not be a great writer, or even a particularly good one. I certainly don’t have every grammatical rule memorised, not by a long way. Even if I had, I wouldn’t follow them all. The list of classic literature that remains unseen by my heathen eyes is horrifyingly long. I don’t imagine I have many blinding insights to share about much at all.
This blog, too, has become infrequent at best. Sure, yes, I lost my wallet/phone/bike/home/job/hobby etc. etc. – but those are just excuses. I could have kept updating it. Arguably I had more material than ever. I just didn’t feel like it.
Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. But I’m still a writer.
Here’s the thing. Writing stuff down is just one way of expressing a thought. I believe some thoughts need to be written down. I believe some need to be said aloud. I believe some need to be sung, or screamed, or carved on the inside of a pub toilet door. I believe some need to be whispered in an empty room. I believe some need to echo inside your own head, and kept there.
Something occurs to you. Roll it around inside your mouth, just in case it needs to be articulated. Suck it like a gobstopper. Feel the flavours changing over time. Bitter. Sweet. Fruity. Fake. Decide what to do with it, and then… do it.
Soon, I hope to be writing as a job again. Being creative. Learning. Improving.
Only I get to say if I’m a writer or not.