Monday, August 1, 2011

blogger = writer?

I had the incredible good fortune a week ago to attend a reading of a fabulous local queer writing group.  After the reading, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I met one of the writers, a poet (a very talented one, even)..  While chatting abot the reading, I mentioned that the evening had been a really nice mix of poetry, prose and spoken word.  She asked me then if I was also a writer, which sort of gave me pause.  I thought for a second, and then said something rambling (why do I ramble so much?) like: "maybe/I don't know/not really/maybe I used to be...but I do have a blog."  She queried something along the lines of: "Why do we lose all the writers to blogs?"  I raised my eyebrow here of course, because why can't bloggers be writers too?, but (before any of my fellow bloggers get their panties in a wad here), I know it wasn't intended to be in any way dismissive, and I certainly didn't take it that way.  Anyhoo - we chatted a bit more and went on our separate ways.

It was an interesting moment, with an interesting person at an interesting event.   The part of the exchange that sticks with me for today's purposes is that it brought up the question for me of what makes a writer?  Is it talent?  The urge to write?  Is it readership?  Publication?  Am I a writer?  I really haven't the foggiest idea. 

What I do know is this:  When people ask me to picture my dream career, I cannot articulate it precisely, but what I picture in my mind is sitting in a room, (yes, of my own) filled with art, stacks upon stacks of books, my laptop.  I also envision time.  Time to think, to observe, reflect, respond. 

I know that my purse is filled with an endless supply of scraps of grocery receipts covered with snippets of half-finished sentences and thoughts that came to me (as they too often do) at moments not conducive to fleshing them out properly.  I know that I have far too few moments actually conducive to fleshing things out properly.

I know that the many ideas, sentences, pieces of inspiration that come to me but are lost in the great juggling act of parenting, loads of laundry, sinks full of dishes and other poorly-done, but nonetheless all-consuming, housewifery is a consistant source of frustration in my life.

I know that I am too often distracted from my children and spouse because I get so easily caught up and completely lost in the ideas that spill into my head.  I'm a heady girl, I am. 

I know that this blog is far too often filled with typos and incomplete ideas because I have neither the time nor space to make it otherwise.  This drives me mad, but right now, there isn't another way. 

I know that I am able to communicate far more passionately and thoughtfully in writing than I am verbally.  I know I often require more time to reflect on and respond to ideas than lots of folks.  This can render me  awkward and stilted in social situations, and in the classroom has often resulted in me being pegged, and sometimes dismissed, as the dumb, quiet girl in the corner. 

I know that the satisifcation I derive from keeping this blog is equal parts connection with myself and connection with others. 

I know that I get a bit surly, twitchy, unsettled when I can't find the time to write, or when I feel I have nothing to say.  And even surlier, twitchier, and more unsettled when I do have something to say and can't reach for the right words and feelings to say it. 

I  know that the thing that makes the idea of pursuing my PhD so exciting for me is the unadulterated satisfaction is get out of reading, researching, ruminating, writing.

Does this blog make me a writer?  I still don't know.  A survivalist, certainly.  A confessor, without a doubt.  An over-sharer, sometimes.  Someone who at times has something to say, definitely.  A stay-at-home mama with an aching need to think, express herself and connect, for sure.

But I think, as I sit here on the couch, propped up on cushions with a cramp in my left side from awkwardly cradling my feverish sleeping toddler in one arm and my laptop in the other, if i could go back in time and answer that question again, it would look more like this:

"Am I a writer?  Maybe someday."


  1. Hell yes you're a writer. What is a writer? A person who writes.

    If someone reads my blog I goddamn want to know if they think I am a good writer, what their favorite posts are, if I made them laugh, if I made them think... and don't you DARE say I'm not a writer if I 'just' write a blog.

    You write well, you communicate what's in your heart, you have taught me things, and I like reading here.

    So yes. You are.

  2. Ami - well thanks for the vote of confidence. I wasn't trying to say that I'm not a writer because I only blog - only that I don't know what makes a writer, and I'm not sure I've really ever thought of myself as a writer... and that this conversation I had made me feel the need to ruminate about it. That's all.

    Mama T

  3. I hear where you're coming from here, Mama T... Though I've been blogging for almost 5 years, and keeping a paper journal for almost 20, I don't consider myself a capital-W Writer. This isn't a put-down of my skills, just a statement of fact regarding how I identify. I spend a lot of time writing, but it's all about what you call " aching need to think, express (my)self and connect".

    This discussion reminds me of similar ones I've had recently about gender/sexual identity: For the first time, I've referred to myself in public as a queer femme, and it's funny how people have argued this point with me. Apparently, my non-traditional career in the trades makes some folks think I can't also be femme! Bizarre. Anyway, it's all about how I identify, right? And the more ruminating, the better, say I...