Gosh darnit. Summer Pierre has required me to think. I hate it when that happens.
Well, actually, she hasn't required me to do anything, as in asked me, personally, hey Jody, think about this. But her blog did. In case you don't know about her, Summer is a very talented writer/artist/musician who has just published a book called Lectures to Jody - I mean, The Artist in the Office. But this post is not about her amazing book. I haven't finished reading it yet. This post is about how she asked the question: Why do people want to be writers?
It's true, it can be like pulling teeth to get me to sit down and actually do that thing with the words. It's also true that the writing life, while sounding romantic in the extreme, is really not all sitting around a table drinking scotch with highly intelligent and talented folk at the Algonquin, or even tea at that Ukranian pastry shop on the Upper West Side. For me, it's about stolen moments of inspiration, where the words bubble up so fiercely in my brain that I have no choice but to write them down, just to get them out of there. Or when people start talking in there, and I start taking dictation in the hopes that they'll eventually shut up. Not so glamorous. More than a little crazy-seeming. Although, admittedly, sometimes fun.
So, am I a writer because I need to be? Because I have something to say? (And now I'm hiding from the cliche police.)
Of course, I've just talked for two paragraphs about why I write, which is a different question. Why do I want to identify myself as a writer? That's what Summer asked. And can I be a writer, if I've never had a book published? If a writer writes in her bedroom and nobody reads it, is she still a writer? For tax purposes, perhaps?
It's not like most writers are rich and famous. (Of course, the same can be said of actors, and yet I did that, too.) And it's not like I want to be rich and famous. Well, not famous, anyway. Not superstardom-type fame. Rich would be nice.
But writers are smart. At least, that's the perception. And creative. And interesting. Witty. Observant. Deep. Those are things I want to be. So maybe that's it. I want to be a writer, rather than just writing, so that people will think those things about me. Hmmm. And we're back to my insecurities - caring about how others perceive me, and learning from them how to perceive myself.