Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
Angela is at a cocktail party. She runs into a bunch of former classmates from college. Everyone’s tooting their horns, talking about all they’ve accomplished or what their spouses have accomplished through the years. Some not even bothered by the fact that they’ve ridden someone else’s coat tails to get to their current station in life.
“I’ve recently been promoted to Director of blah, blah, blah.”
“John is now head of surgery at the hospital of blah, blah, blah.”
“I am now head partner at BLAH, BLAH, and BLAH!”
I’m barely listening to what everyone’s saying because I know that the conversation will soon rest on me. Soon I will have to share what I do for a living. And after all these years, I’m still not sure what to say.
You see I am a writer. I am a writer but I’ve never introduced myself as such. (At least not outside a writer’s venue.) I’ve published articles, short stories and I am proud to say that I’ve written and finished my first book. You say, “What’s wrong with you? If you’ve done all of that, why haven’t you introduced yourself as a writer?” That’s a good question.
I guess my issue is the fact that I haven’t “published” my book yet. I feel like my journey won’t be truly complete until my book is on the shelf. When I can walk up to the nearest Barnes and Noble or local book store and see my book proudly displayed in the window. Or my book has become “the” discussion piece at a writer’s conference. (Positive thinking LOL!) I know it may seem silly. But there are those who feel that I have no right to say I’m a “writer” when my book has not been published.
Even now with publishing being a multi-million dollar industry, influenced by so many genres, my work is not considered “serious” literature. ‘You are not a real writer,’ they say, ‘if you haven’t written works worthy of C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou, Alexandre Dumas, or a James Baldwin.’ Goodness if I compared myself them and the many other great authors out there, I would never have found the courage to write anything.
And yet with everything I’ve done, when the conversation finally settled on me, I said, “Well I’m a legal secretary at a firm in D.C. but I’m currently working on getting my book published.” I guess in comparison it may not seem like much to them. I get a lukewarm, “Wow Angela that’s great…” And then the next dreaded question, pops up its head. “So what is it about?” asks one of the women of the group. “Romance.” I respond. Silence. I could say more, I should say more, but this happens so often that I no longer have the energy to defend myself. Pitiful isn’t it?
“Well that’s just great. I barely have time to read anymore and when I do I don’t want to read something that will require me to think!” She chuckles out loud. Hold on. Did she just imply that my work would not require her to think?! Ugh!
Suddenly, I hear the voice of one of my writing colleague’s in my head. For years, she has been on me, pushing me to stand up for myself, to defend all the awesome work I’ve done.
‘Come on Angela, have you already forgotten what that critic said about your short story last year? ‘Angela Thompson is one of the most intelligent, expressive, and creative writers I’ve come across in a long while. I’m impatiently waiting to see what she will bring to the table next!’ You my dear Angela, should be doing more than tooting your horn, you should be running your train full throttle, with your horns blaring!’
Covering my mouth with my hand, I stifled a giggle. My old classmates looked at me weirdly. Once again, I missed what was being said. “Actually, Melanie,” I spoke up bravely, “My work has been hailed by a number of critics and I’ve recently been approached by a publisher!” Taken aback, Melanie surprised me when she responded, “I am proud of you Angela. It takes a lot of gumption to do what you have done. I could never have become a writer. Maybe I should have paid more attention during Composition and Rhetoric!” Everyone laughed out loud. “Thanks Melanie, I appreciate that!”
I am a writer. It’s time that I introduce myself as such.
I’m not as accomplished as Angela is, but I do agree that it can be hard to introduce yourself to strangers or to people who don’t truly know you as “A Writer.” I realize that it’s an issue that I need to get over. When you dedicate years of your life towards one goal, the creation of a piece of literature that’s truly important to you, then why not introduce yourself as a writer? If you have a blog, or you’ve self-published your book, doesn’t that make you a writer?
When we are born, we are given a name. Our name acknowledges, proves and gives credence to the fact that we exist and we are now a new member of the human race. The same can be said when you call yourself a writer. It gives power to all you have done and what you will continue to do.
Have you found yourself in a situation where you’re not quite sure how to introduce yourself when asked? Are you in another field but you are ‘writing’ on the side? Or are you a writer and everything else is secondary? Regardless of the venue, I hope to find the courage to introduce myself as the writer I am. And let the chips fall where they may.
Are you ready?
Mari e laipe!
See you soon!
Thanks for visiting ‘Amachi is Hope.’ If you were inspired or felt a connection with today’s blog (or any of my previous entries) please leave a comment. J