Giving What I Do a Name

Hello! You’ve successfully found the blog section of this site, otherwise known (inside my head, anyway) as the Battlestar Redactica, despite the fact I'm unlikely to redact anything I type here. But, one never knows.

 I’m still fuzzy on what the content will look like. As such, I’m kicking off with an observation, one which I suspect applies to many people:

I find it truly, deeply difficult to call myself a writer. Or any kind of “______er,” for that matter. It’s not because I don’t do things; I do plenty of things the doers of which are properly called “_____ers” or “_____ists.”

And yet, I am uncomfortable stepping into those roles, those official-sounding suffixes. Surely I’m not skilled/passionate/professional enough about the things that I do to justify use of those little clusters of letters, and if I did dare to affix them, no doubt the real “_____ers” and “_____ists” of the world would scoff and roll their eyes and talk loudly about how these days any homo sapien with a word program/trapeze/spatula thinks they’re a genuine “_____er” or “_____ist,” and this never would have flown in the good old days when all the respectable writers were aging white guys who traded snide criticisms of one another via carrier pigeon.

Point is, you’d think there was a law against it, the way I avoid calling myself a writer. And when I do, I soften it with a shrug and say “well, I’m sort of a writer, I guess...I mean, I write some stuff.”

I do this with many, many things in my life. For instance:

I sing all the time- alone, in the car, when I’m cooking, when I’m distracted, right now while I sit here typing this post (it’s Brandi Carlile, in case you’re wondering. Yes, I’m a big queer stereotype), but I don’t call myself a singer because I can’t sight read music or accompany myself on an instrument.

I won’t say I’m a circus artist because I have thus far only done it recreationally and I haven’t mastered high-level tricks (also if you mention you do circus people will immediately ask if you’re in Cirque du Soleil. No, damn it, and I don’t plan to be. I just want to mess around on a trapeze).

When asked about my Spanish language skills I reply that I speak it very badly, despite knowing full well that my accent is good and I’ve traveled extensively in areas where I had to rely on my ability to converse in Spanish. But I’m not fluent- my Spanish is flawed. Therefore I can’t claim to be a Spanish speaker, right?

I cook for myself every. single. day, but I always say “I'm an okay cook if heating things up out of a box counts,” despite the fact that I almost never do out-of-box meals and I love the way my food tastes (I mean, I make it for myself, so I better love it).

I don’t consider myself even an amateur comedienne though I’ve done routines at coffee houses and small college venues and made rooms of people laugh out loud.

I’m reticent to call myself an editor because I work for free at a small independent literary magazine. I’ve only recently started referring to myself as a writer, and that after I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and have had several pieces published over the last couple of years.

These are only a few examples.

I’ve noticed it more and more lately, how I never take credit, take ownership, take responsibility for my skills or abilities. I’ll take responsibility for my mistakes and faults, sure. For some reason it is so much easier to say “I screwed up,” or “I’m sorry,” or “I’m bad at that,” than it is to say “I’m a writer.”

And you know what? I’m over it.

I’m over being sheepish or acting casual about things I love; I’m over downplaying things I’m good at. I don’t get paid to do it? So what. I still do it. I’m not the most highly-skilled, world-renowned thingymabob? Well, who is (aside of course from the one person who actually is the top in their field, though often that’s subjective anyway)? That’s like saying Margaret Atwood’s not a writer because she isn’t Shakespeare., and I like Margaret Atwood a lot more than I like Shakespeare.

I absolutely consider my friends and peers who are proficient in their chosen careers, passions, and hobbies to be “______ers” or “______ists,” and it’s about time I extend that courtesy to myself. After all, if I don’t lay claim to my identity, somebody else sure as hell isn’t going to come along and bestow upon me the glittering plaque/diploma/title/mystical scepter of legitimacy. Or they might come along and label me with some other identity, one I don’t choose.

So I consider this website a big, jubilant, terrifying skip in the direction of honesty about who I really am and what matters to me. Words matter deeply to me; reading them, reshaping them, tailoring and pondering and dissecting them. Because I’m a writer, editor, word lover- a bonafide wordologist, if you prefer (though not in the sense of being a person with a wordology degree, as a google search has informed me that’s an actual thing). You get the point: I’m a whole lot of things. I think after posting this I can officially add “blogger” to that list.



P.S. What kind of “_____er(s)” and/or “_____ist(s)” are you? Just curious.


Professional Stuff Do-er.

Professional Stuff Do-er.