Martyrs or tricksters: the truth about writing

Liz GilbertThis Easter weekend I have had my head completely rearranged about writing. I now can’t remember why I ordered Liz Gilbert’s brightly-coloured book Big Magic or what I was expecting from it when I did, but maybe some “eudaimon” was at work already – calling, enticing, leading, suggesting, poking at my unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the writing status quo in my own life.

Not many of us who write almost all the time dare to call ourselves “writers”. We wait until we’ve been published, critiqued and acclaimed and then we think about adopting that name. But then, a little later, we reason: “I don’t make a living this way, I still hold on to my job because I could never make money from my writing, so actually I really am not a real writer, not yet.” I have written my entire life – first as a child at school and play, then as a teenager and young adult who wanted to be a poet, then as a journalist, a subeditor, a commissioning editor and now as an academic researcher and teacher of writing to others. I write a blog about genres of writing, a strong interest now which I pursue with a passion that surprises me. Since 1981 have made my living from writing in multiple forms and clothed and fed myself and my family through it, and yet the question “Can I call myself a writer?” persists. Continue reading