I would like to consider myself a writer, but I am not sure. My confidence flags. I’m an historian and history teacher, retired; a nonprofit director, retired; and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), retired from my post in Ukraine. I’ve had diverse experiences and adventures. And I write about them.
So sometimes I call myself a writer when I’m at the computer, or writing a blog. Not a real writer, though, a narrative writer, not a fiction writer because I don't make up stories. I write about what I see, more like a reporter.
It's easier for me to describe situations, people, life happenings than to make up a story, easier to write about my experiences, what I know, my take on things, than compose a poem.
I have trouble with ”don’t tell, show.” That was the lesson from a writing group I once dared to join. I was on vacation in San Miguel de Allende. I think that’s when I feared I was not a writer afterall. What was I doing in this writer’s group? The fear gripped me, and has not let go.
I basically play with words. I don’t think this is considered being a writer, more a “scribbler,” a “damned scribbler,” as Nathaniel Hawthorne called the women who wrote romance novels that became more popular than his books in the mid-nineteenth century. Not that I could write a romance novel.
Is writing a craft, or an art? I lean toward craftsmanship, crafting words. That‘s what Stephen King calls it in his book “On Writing,” which is also an autobiography.
But writing is also an art, if you have a larger imagination than I do and more talent to put it on paper. Writing is an art form if the writer is comfortable with losing control, letting the ideas flow, less self-conscious perhaps, can take us places we've never been before. King does that.
Which is why I think of myself as a writer only sometimes, and not a great writer, just an okay narrative writer with a passion for reading and words. The blank page remains daunting, even if you’re not about to write a masterpiece, and maybe never will. It takes courage even to try.