Professional or Hobbyist?

After reading this post by suzie81 Professional or Hobbyist?, I accepted her challenge.

She asks, “Does somebody earn the right to call themselves a writer if they have been published once? Does a piece of work have to be published in a nationally or internationally recognised forum in order for it to be recognised as valid?

But what do you think? Do you refer to yourself as a ‘blogger,’ ‘poet,’ ‘writer’ or photographer? At what point do you feel it is acceptable to use these terms?”

I’ve asked myself the question and it does present some conflict. I call myself a student, a Resident Advisor, a daughter, a girlfriend, and the list goes on. But when I’m done with the obvious list of roles I have and it comes time to have the internal discussion about whether I can consider myself a “writer” or a “blogger,” I have an internally awkward, self-judging moment.

I write for the Collegiate Times newspaper on a weekly basis. I love to write news articles. I love to write period. Does that make me a writer? When I send emails to potential sources of information for a story, I introduce myself as a writer for the CT. In my signature at the bottom of the email “News Reporter, Collegiate Times” always follows “Resident Advisor.” Why shouldn’t I refer to myself as a writer. It is my passion, isn’t it? Isn’t writing what everyone has always wanted me to pursue in my life? But how can I put myself on the same level as George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, William Faulkner, and J.K. Rowling. How dare I bestow upon myself the same label these people have claimed for themselves. All the recognition, all the dedication, all the passion I think it should take to steal that word for my own use will never be with me. Can I still call myself a writer? Is it wrong? Is it disrespectful to the greats? Or is everyone a writer, just on different levels? I’d like to call myself a writer, but then I feel guilty. I mean, I write. Still, I feel guilty when calling myself a “writer.”

Blogging is an entirely different monster. I do “blog,” but am I a “blogger?” It’s a similar debate; however, the internet seems so much more accessible to anyone than does publishing a printed work.

I am a college student, and a business major at that. I’m still only a teenager. I know most grammatical structures and can edit my friends’ papers fairly well. When, if ever, will I be able to call myself a writer? When, if ever, will I be able to call myself a blogger?

The truth that I know deeply is that it’s not the published works that determine one’s status as a writer. It’s the innate ability to translate thoughts into somewhat coherent words and feel relief at the page (or online post) holding the words you couldn’t stand to bear any longer. I am a writer because I see the world differently. I cannot paint a picture of the day I had in paint, but I can use words to illustrate what I need to convey to myself and to others. I can string words together like a song, but I cannot rap about society and politics in a bold and colorful way. I’m a writer because I find joy in the strategic arrangement of words. It’s not so much that I even love to write, it’s more that I feel a need to write. Despite the rejection and the painful criticism, from others, but more so from oneself, I’m a writer because I’m different in the ways that I want to continue being different.

I’m a writer because I don’t have to be, but I am anyway.

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