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.
Causes Nina Schuyler Supports
National Resources Defense Council