where the writers are
A Writer's Longevity


As the years tick by and I continue to write, I've been thinking about the longevity of a writer. How do you retain and ignite and re-ignite the passion to write? How do you dust yourself off from rejection and enter the imagination again, trusting that it is of value? In the periods when you are deeply involved in a novel, how do you sustain yourself?

For years when someone has asked, "What do you do?"

The answer has been, "I'm a writer."

But I've started to answer differently. To say, "I'm a writer," links my identity to the noun, "writer." And that noun is linked to author, which is linked to publication. Inevitably, after someone asks what I do, the next question is, "Where have you published?" Or more bluntly, "Have you published anything?"

Tying my identity to "writer" turns over to someone else a certain authority over me. Publication means my identity is affirmed; Rejection means that my identity is disavowed. I end up deflated, wasting days of not writing because I've connected my identity to "writer" and I've let someone say, "No, you're not." And so I don't--write, that is, at least for a day or so.

So now my answer is, "I write."

Because that's what I do. It takes out of the equation the issue of my identity and puts in, instead, the idea of process. There is the concept of an "I" and the verb "write." The writing process is something that remains in my domain. But not only that, it's why I write: to sink into the imaginative world and let myself dissolve.

2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Don't you think process too

Don't you think process too is part of the identity, Nina? And dissolving means evolving? The other aspects are a reaffirmation, not an affirmation, of what we do. Readers will always have an 'authority' with their interpretations. We can only watch and see how we unfold.


Comment Bubble Tip

Faranza, I do think process


I do think process is part of identity, but it's much more in my domain. That is, assuming I'm healthy, I can decide to engage in the process of writing today or not. But if I've tied my identity to an externality and need an external validation, then it's a much shakier identity, much more prone to inflation and deflation. It's a rockier ride.

I agree-- dissolving means evolving. One recurrent theme in my life is letting go. It seems that's a significant thread to growing up, to adulthood. The interesting thing is, when the hand loosens its grasp on what it thought so necessary, so vital, often something else floats into that hand, something much more significant and profound.