The identity of a writer

In my university years, I was friends with a man who was intellectually gifted. I enjoyed our times together, but deep down, I never really felt myself with him; I somehow felt I was lacking. Not that I would have ever even named this vague feeling of dis-ease, but I can see it looking back through the lens of time.

We often went on outings in the city where we lived. By mutual never-expressed agreement, neither of us was interested in the other romantically. This made for jaunts to restaurants or cultural happenings that were fun and generally easy. Until he would say something that felt like an underhanded critique.

Such as one day as we were browsing in one of the city’s fine bookstores. As we were exiting, he said, “You know, Amy, maybe one day you could run a bookstore.”

Startled by his pronouncement, I merely said, “You think?”

writing books

A selection of my books on writing. Some great ones in there; I especially recommend the one by Eudora Welty (One Writer’s Beginnings) and of course William Zinsser’s is a classic.

His comment stung, because I had a deep-seated desire to be writing the books, not selling them. So I saw his remark as a putdown. I hasten to say that having been in the publishing business for so many years, I have met many a fine bookseller, marked by enquiring minds and wisdom. Now I wouldn’t see his comment as derogatory, even though I still prefer to be part of the creating process.

And the creation of good books is what my career path has focused on. Mainly with me helping other people to write, rather than me being the one to do the writing. Only now – some twenty years later – am I in the process of writing a book that I hope will one day feature in a bookstore.

Another comment by another intelligent man whom I respect (and a writer himself) brought me low a few years ago. When I told him that I wanted to be a writer, he said, “That’s something you can aspire to later on.”

When he said that, I felt he was saying, some day you can try that. Later on, when you’ve learned more and become more wise. He is generous-hearted and probably meant nothing by the comment. But it wounded nonetheless.

But most days I write, and the working days I enjoy most are those penning one thing or another. Part of being a writer – at least for me, with fledgling confidence – is accepting the moniker and growing into it. Knowing that I am a writer because I write; not because I’ve clinched a magical three-book contract (although that would be nice too). God can change my name. Not just Amy, the editor. But Amy, the writer.

How about you? Is there some unaffirmed part of yourself that longs to be expressed? Have you had to grown into a new name?

1 Response

  1. Pingback : Amy Boucher Pye » What I’m Into (March 2016)

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