I write, therefore I…what?


This post could just as easily be titled, “Why I Am Uncomfortable Being Called A Writer.”

I admit it’s an odd quirk, what with the two novels, three novellas, four novelettes and assorted short stories available for purchase or download. Add in this blog and my old livejournal, three more complete novels in various stages of revision and one consigned to Limbo abandoned on Wattpad, and it’s obvious I write. A lot.

Ay, there’s the rub. I write. Writing is a thing I do. It is an activity I enjoy…well. True confession, I don’t always enjoy it, but I do always love its results, and often it is joyful work. Sometimes writing can consume my every waking moment.

But WRITER is a term of identity, and I don’t meet the minimum metrics. This is not a case of impostor syndrome. It’s more of a semantic issue. I do writing. I also do gardening, but I don’t call myself a gardener. I bake, but I do not claim to be a baker. I work in a library, but I am not a librarian.

The writing & publishing community packs a lot of baggage about personality traits, habits, likes, and dislikes onto BEING a writer that don’t fit me.  I’m okay with that–except when people refer to me as A Writer. Then I feel the squeeze and start to squirm.

How can I be sure I don’t fit?  I’m so glad you asked. I’m sure because I know many wonderful, talented, inclusive people who do identify as writers. These days it’s simple to find and bond with a tribe of like-minded folk online.

Let’s take a look at the attributes these writer-souls share. The internet is full of helpful materials. There are memes galore. Check this image search here:  You know you’re a writer when

Or check out the multitude of lists in the blogosphere

Oh, and QUIZZES!  I love quizzes.

How did you do?  Me, I scrolled down four lines’ worth of image memes  before I found a single one applicable to me. Lists are no better. I rarely match more than one or two items. And the quizzes? “Not a good fit.” “Not your strength.” “Writer probably isn’t a good career choice.”

(Hah! Too late.)

I do match a few writerly qualifications.  I read a lot. I can get lost in writing. I could happily be a hermit. I adore blanket forts and office supplies. But I don’t buy pens & journals and such, and that’s just the first of the long list of writer traits I do NOT have.

Thusly by the standards of identity, I am not a writer.  I can rove with writer wolves, I can howl and hunt and play with them like a labrador retriever who got loose and was adopted by the pack, but I am unmistakably Not The Same.

I  am…me. I am not a thing I do. I am a collective of ALL the things I do and remember and learn and more. Being is its own verb. I am Karen Elizabeth Morris Herkes.

What do I do? Among other things, I write. And that’s more than enough to bring me happies.

2 responses to “I write, therefore I…what?”

  1. brianklowe Avatar

    It doesn’t matter what you call yourself. It matters what you do.

  2. Leticia Toraci Avatar

    To be or not to be… It all depends on how sassy you are, I think. I paint, should I call myself a painter or an artist? I studied Engineering, should I call myself an Engineer when I’m unemployed? I write some hours per week, am I a writer, or the even more scary word after publishing: Author. It all depends on how confident one person feels about her/himself. I think it doesn’t matter in the long run as long as you do your best and put your best out there, if the public will pay to read or not, that’s their problem.