I genuinely have never known how to answer that question.
What constitutes a writer? When do you get to kneel down before the Queen and allow yourself to accept the title? Is it when you get paid? Is it when you realize you write all the time instead of dealing with your problems?
If so, I guess I could call myself a “writer”. I’ve been writing stories and filling the pages of Composition Notebooks since I was in the third grade. I used to look forward to the time of day when my teachers would set their timers and tell us to write about something until we were told to stop. I’ve been creating fantasies and stories in my head and daydreaming for as long as I can remember. I’ve worked through problems and analyzed situations through words on a page for most of my life. Hell, my website tagline is “using my right to write.”
So why am I having such a complex? Why do I cringe and refuse to call myself a “writer”?
I think it comes from the fact that writers are generally seen as pretentious and usually sequester themselves from the real world. I have no interest in following the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, or F. Scott. And I ABSOLUTELY don’t want to become JK Rowling, someone who is so out of touch with the world that she takes being a tone-deaf white woman to the next level.
Most renowned and famous writers have some pretty tragic pasts and histories. Maybe I don’t want to call myself a writer because it usually becomes synonyms with pain and angst. I’d feel like a complete imposter if I tried to say “Miranda Veal: writer.” I’ve always looked inward to find inspiration, and that can often be a dark place to look, but it doesn’t mean I need to wear all black and sit in the corner of a coffee shop while I pour over my Shinola all afternoon. Oh, wait…
I’ve flexed a lot of my writing skills over the years from random blog posts to pieces on social justice, to manifestos for campaigns. I even wrote puff pieces about college life to satisfy my need for composition.
After I graduated, a mere month ago, thinking about titling myself has become extremely daunting. I went to school for advertising and have become more comfortable with calling myself a “strategist” or a “communicator”. But even those are just buzzwords-turned-job-titles in the age of LinkedIn profiles. What do they actually mean? What do they actually tell you about a person or their work?
Maybe that’s why I don’t want to commit to calling myself a writer. It has the potential to back me into a corner where that’s all I can be.
But it’s the 21st century, and while this year has been extremely hard, I’ve been able to think more about my identity and “who I am”.
I’m a strategist.
I’m a creative.
I’m an activist.
I’m an ally.
I’m a passionate, driven, and curious recent grad seeking opportunities in Marketing & Advertising.
I’m a bookworm.
I’m a composer.
I’m a wordsmith.
And after crafting this lengthy post as a means of therapy: I’m a writer.
As a newly reborn writer, I’m committed to amplifying others’ voices. And especially now, Black voices. Instead of the usual song from Spotify, I implore you to listen to the 1619 podcast from Nikole Hannah-Jones, an amazing writer, journalist, MacArthur Fellow, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Tar Heel.
Why would I claim to use “my right to write” if I don’t use it for good and for justice? What voice do I have if I don’t use it as an ally to amplify others? And what writer would I be if I didn’t listen and educate myself on matters of injustice?