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On Being a Writer

posted: 10.2.12 by Traci Gardner

With the National Day on Writing coming up on October 20, I wanted to take some time this month to think about writing and writers. This is the first of three posts on that topic.

It’s taken a long time for me to be able to describe myself as a writer. I’ve told people that I am a student, a teacher, a trainer, a software designer, a customer support rep, a Web manager, a curriculum designer, and an online content developer. In all those jobs, one of my primary responsibilities was to write, but I never told anyone that I was a writer.

A few days ago, I was chatting in a Linux chatroom and mentioned that I needed to get back to work. Someone asked what I was working on, and I replied that I was writing a blog post.

“You’re a writer?” he asked. I admitted that I am, and I began to wonder why I had never said it before.

As I was thinking about the National Day on Writing for this week’s post, I decided to reflect on being a writer, using some images that I made into this video:

When I began gathering images for that piece, I realized that my conception of being a writer was quite idealized and romantic, and all the things that made me feel like a failed writer—writer’s block, false starts, revisions, errors—were really the things that demonstrated that in fact I am a writer, after all. I may never write a great poem. No one is likely to want my autograph. Still, I’m a writer.

Do you refer to yourself as a writer, a novelist, a blogger, an essayist, or a poet? What makes you a writer? I’d love to hear if anyone else struggles with using that word. Please leave a comment below, or drop by my page on Facebook or Google+.


[Video: All the images and audio used in the video are Creative Commons. Details are listed here.]

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2 Responses to “On Being a Writer”

  1. Susan Naomi Bernstein Says:

    I love how the video interacts with your words. We are all always already becoming writers– especially in the age of multimedia. Thanks for this, Traci!

  2. Blu Parsons Says:

    For me it was always “…and writer.” I was a “teacher and writer.” I was “a student and writer.” I was “a factory worker and writer.” When pressed, I will generally call myself a poet, because that’s what I’ve been writing the longest, and it best describes the way I interact with the world. But it’s taken me 20 years to be comfortable with the statement “I am a writer.”