There’s one moment in the last few months that really sticks out to me.
I was having dinner with my best friend Ashley and her aunt, uncle, and cousins, and we were having a conversation any college student knows well. Her uncle was asking me what my major was and what I planned to do after graduation.
I replied to him as usual as I shoveled potatoes into my mouth: I’m a professional writing major with minors in marketing and PR, and I hope to find a job editing or copywriting.
What wasn’t usual about this interaction, though, was how right after I finished my statement, Ashley proudly said, “Stephanie is writing a book.” As she said that, I had realized that all this time, I’d been lying about my plans by omission.
Granted, there were times I did talk about my book and my plans to publish it, but I always felt really uncomfortable when I did. In that moment, I had to ask myself “why?”
Why was I uncomfortable? Why did I feel better lying than talking about the thing I spent the last five years working on?
I’m not ashamed of my novel; in fact, I’m proud of the amount of work I have put into it. I’m proud of my characters and their depth and how much I love them. I’m proud that I feel so good about my book that I want to take the risk and try to publish it traditionally.
But I often forget how much work I’ve actually done, and how much I truly put into it. It all comes down to one thing: doubt. I doubt the amount of effort and perseverance that goes into a novel, and I doubt my own abilities and skills. And I forget about how proud I am.
So I lie and say I’m pursuing a normal, stable job, as if that has been my Plan A all along. It’s easier than feeling unsure of myself, right? It’s easier than hearing “You know, publishing a book is hard.”
But I should be sure of myself: I am a Writer, and I have been since I started this novel back in 2014. And yes, I know that publishing is hard, but I’m prepared to do what it takes.
So why can’t I just say that? Why can’t I just call myself a writer and say I want to be a published author when I graduate? I’m prepared to hear the doubt in others, since I’ve heard it so often in myself. But I always convince myself to keep going, so why can’t I respond to them with the same self-assurance?
I know I’m not alone in this. I know that there’s a certain shame so many feel when telling random adults that you want to pursue bigger plans than a 9-5 job. But we’ve gotta be proud, because there’s a certain bravery in having those plans.
There’s bravery in being a writer, in pursuing it as a profession, and we should be proud to call ourselves one to anyone who is willing to listen.
I’m a writer, and so are you.
So let’s start calling ourselves by what we are.
Thanks for reading! Tell me about your experience — do you call yourself a writer without shame or do you feel awkward about it sometimes like me?