I was thinking about Naming Things or Naming Situations or Naming People – labels, whatever. In Tender Graces, Virginia Kate says she likes to give things names, that’s what she does. It centers her world, makes it feel more concrete. The mountain Is. The mimosa Is. The owl Is. It is because it is named, noticed, made real by its telling, by they fact that she is a part of it and calls it forth in the naming. By the fact that perception gives its due.
I’ve been noticing many things since TG has been published…noticed things before that too, but, coming from this side of it, some other things become clear.
I thought about the days when I didn’t know if I could call myself a writer. I thought, well, I write. But that wasn’t enough. I said, let me publish something first. I did. Not enough. Let me publish something else somewhere else. I did. Not enough. Let me get paid something for that work. I did. Not quite. Let me publish here, there, this that. I did. I guess I can call myself a writer, finally, I thought. When Tender Graces was published, I thought. Now. Now I am for sure sure sure a writer. I have written novels, one is now published. Someone asked of someone, “When do you call yourself an author?” Sigh. There’s another word. Okay, I’m a writer and an editor. I am the author of Tender Graces. Another voice says: publish more books, then you will really for sure be considered an Author! Geez. Whatever. Labels. Names. What makes a writer, though? I visit blogs or talk to people and I hear this over and over and over–and I remember it, the days I was afraid to call myself a writer. I hear so often: “Can I call myself a writer even if I haven’t >>>>>fill in blank here>>>>?” Oh the angst!
Made me think how if a hair stylist had one client whose hair she cut in her house and that client was her mom, would she still be a stylist? Well, I think so. If a doctor had one patient that she saw once a year, is she still a doctor? Well, yes she is. If a fireman never put out a fire, is he still a fireman? Yes he is. I could go on, but you see how there are some professions that are concrete, that bear their names no matter the circumstance. There are no gray areas.
I think out of all the “labels/names” out there, the arts are the most difficult to clearly stamp upon a person. When is a writer a “WRITER,” when is an author an “AUTHOR,” when is an artist an artist, when is an actor an ACTOR, etc. And who puts these restrictions upon the others? Ourselves most times; however, others put these restrictions upon us as well. I’ve heard authors pull their noses in the air and sniff at those who call themselves writers: “When you have accomplished what I have, then you can join my club, otherwise *sniff*…” To be judged by your peers is the harshest of judgements, isn’t it? I have no idea how I will be judged by my peers – time will tell.
When I attended the author reception, I was sitting with another published author and two unpublished writers. When someone stopped by our group and asked a question and wanted a photo, the two unpublished writers quickly said, “Oh, we’re unpublished writers, these two are the authors….” and they said it near-apologetically. I remembered feeling that. I remembered wanting with a Want of WANTs to be a member of “The Club.” Now I feel as if I am, right? Well, guess what? There are still all these other clubs, all these other stairs one must climb to get to the rooms where the Others are. Have no books published – go to that room. Have one book published with a small press: go to this room. Have a book published with The Big Guys, go to the room over there. Have more than one book published? Go here. Are on the NYT best seller list: here you go -go on in that room. Are a million-dollar author? Oh, well, you are up in the ivory tower – we’ll take you there on a golden chariot. Self-Published – get down in the basement.
I have so much more on these thoughts, but, when blog posts are too long, they look scary, and this one is Long Enough.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you ask yourself–Am I Worthy of THIS TITLE….whatever that title is? What do you Name yourself? Do you feel you want to attach a label to show others who you are and what you do? When someone asks, “What do you do?” how do you answer that?