Writing and Not Writing

I want to make it very clear to anyone who may question it that I do not consider myself a writer. I mean, though writing is what I do and I hope to some day make a living doing what I love (and I do not think I really have a choice in the matter as it is a passion and a very deep one at that), and that I may accept the label of author for professional orientation, I do not identify with writing. I do not want to identify with it. I've even gone so far as to create a fictitious name to further separate me from who I am.

For better or worse.

Writing is something I do. It's something I'm driven to do. I love language and I love reading and I love writing. I really love meeting people who love these things. And yet there's a whole world out there at my finger tips. Many things interest me. I play guitar, I study philosophy, and I run, but I do not consider myself a guitarist, a philosopher, or an athlete. I am just me.

I don't use art to hold up life. Life breeds art, not the other way around. I will put my pen down and live just as quickly as I would turn the TV off and live. Life is out there, it's not in our hobbies. Our hobbies are really good at protecting us from some of the awful things life can dish out, but I never, ever, in a million years, want to hide in something I do as a way to escape something I don't want to do.

So I distance myself. I don't identify, and I don't allow myself to identify. Maybe I trust too deeply in my own psycho-babble, and none of this matters, but I think it does and I think it's important to say it. I think to identify with writing as “who I am” is to risk putting off the rest of the world. “Why should I do this or that? I'm a writer!”

I am the uncut block the Taoist sages spoke of. I have not yet taken shape, so I contain all the potential in the world. If I began to identify myself with specific things, I would stop growing. I would cut myself down to whatever size the idea I identified myself with required me to be.

I have yet to set the controls for the heart of the sun, so I may remain to see the stars.


Writing can be, and often is, one of the most enjoyable things I've ever experienced in my life. The “ah-ha” moments when a scene comes together, when I close a plot-hole, when I connect one part of my story to another, when a character suddenly says, through my fingers typing on my keyboard, something that makes the entire story make sense and come alive. It's like being born—I imagine.

A writer must have some level of egotism to want to share his/her words with others. This is hardly a bad thing. There are millions of readers who want writers to share their work with them. I'm one such reader. What if Stephen King had said to himself “No, I don't think I'll share this. I don't want to come across so egotistical as to think someone else would want to read it.”

If there was one law of story telling (or writing in general), it would be this: If you write it, you must share it. There's only one exception. Your personal journal. And if you do not want that to be shared, you should burn it, because we all know when you die your grandchildren will dig it out of the cardboard box in the attic and publish it.

This, of course, has nothing to do with me not wanting to identify with being a writer. Which makes this a very poorly written blog post.

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8 Responses to Writing and Not Writing

  1. It is NOT written poorly. On the contrary. It's a slap-into-reality article that, rather than bum you out, empowers one to see beyond labels, and break attachment to them, and feel free to pursue other things (Even as you keep doing what you love to do).
    Your take on how we can't hide behind hobbies is eye opening. Hobbies are a break, a safe port to stop and rest from the whirlwinds from life, but to use them a shield to hide from life the rest of one's life take away from the hobby's value.
    Thank you for sharing. this is definitely food for thought.

  2. This was definitely not a poorly written blog post! I do agree about the burning the journal part...I've already burned two of mine in the past! There's nothing worse than one's innermost thoughts, dreams, memories being read by others that were never meant to read it.

    I think I understand what you mean when you say you don't want to be identified as a writer, or by any of the things that you might have passion for. When we identify with something, we create labels and start to categorize parts of ourselves neatly, drawing boundaries and we begin to limit the potential we might have in other areas. It seems, quite clearly, that the sky is the limit for you. I like how you don't limit yourself. It's good to have confidence,I agree, but another thing entirely to have over-confidence and have the false illusion that we've mastered a given area, like a hobby or pursuit. I'm reminded of the famous quote by zen master Shunyru Suzuki: "In the beginner's mind there many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."

    When we are an "expert" of things, oftentimes we think we have mastered that area and have little more to learn or know, and thus growth stops...and that is the beginning of a backward slide and definitely a stagnation of sorts, a death. So, I think by not "identifying" yourself as a writer, you are keeping yourself very much alive and vibrant in your art.

    Sorry, probably way too long!:)

  3. @ Jessica: Too long or not, it was spot on. Thanks for that beautiful assessment. I'm glad you picked up on, and added to, the Eastern vibe I was aiming for. And now I have so much more to think about ;)

    @ Anonymous: I don't think there are safe harbors in life. When the storm comes the ships that may survive are the ones on the high seas, riding out the storm with their sails down. Ships in harbors are merely thrown against the rocky shore. Harbors (and hobbies, as you show) are only good to gather supplies and stretch the legs before the next adventure!

  4. I know what you mean, I take pictures, I am not a photographer, I don't like the connotations that go with any label. Great post, you do write well, getting your point across very definitely. Thank you for the thought provoking words.

  5. I totally agree that life breeds art, and not the other way around. As for not wanting to identify as being a writer, I'll never understand that. I've heard that same sentiment come from a variety of talented people. But to each his or her own, I suppose. :-)

  6. Thanks, Jan!

    Sweepyjean: It's what I do, not who I am ;)
    But interesting that you say you've met others who share the same sentiment. I kind of feel alone in it, and now you've provided enough interest to look into it more deeply. Thanks.

  7. I'm in awe with your post! I admire that you don't identify yourself with what you are doing and instead, it should be the other way around. This is such an enjoyable read! :-)


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