And What Shall I Call Myself?

I have read four different articles this week on different subjects and from variant sources that have included the sentence, “If you want to be a writer, call yourself a writer.” The fourth time I read it, in this article from Andrew Peterson, I felt like yelling, “Enough already! Quit telling me what I should call myself!” I took a few days to mull over why I was so frustrated with this advice. I understand the principle of it. I even agree that thinking of yourself as a writer makes you take your writing more seriously, makes you schedule time to write, makes you pursue serious writing opportunities. So why was I so upset at the advice? Why was I kicking against the goads of advice that could help me make my way toward my stated goal?

I went through a lot of self examination on this one, because at first I really believed it was self sabotage; but the answer came to me in a bolt of understanding when I asked myself the question, “So if I don’t call myself a writer, what am I?” I was not asking this in the sense of identity. I am in Christ. That is my identity. I was also not asking this in terms of life calling, because my ultimate life calling is to be a helpmeet to my husband. Those two things are long term; the first is eternal and the second is until death does us part. In seeking to answer, “What am I?” I was really asking, “What am I now?” I have been a realtor for a season. I have been a teacher for a season. If I don’t want to call myself a writer in this season of my life, what am I?

A mother.

I don’t want to call myself a writer at the moment. I am realizing that this season of my whole energy and attention being consumed with the care and nurture of small children is a short one and I don’t want to let go of that title before I have to. Right now, everything else gets tucked into the empty minutes around being a mama, and as exhausting and sometimes frustrating as it can be, I am okay with that. In five years my children will be capable of going to school, or spending a night at a friend’s house, or even spending a week at camp without me. Yes, I will still be their mother, and I will still be charged with their nurture in the faith and their love and care and raising up and correcting in righteousness, but I’ll have some freedom to do the things that writers do, like take three hours each week just to write, or hole up in a cabin somewhere for a weekend, just to write. In five years, maybe I can call myself a mama and a writer. For now, I’m content to be a mother – who sometimes writes.

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About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

2 responses to “And What Shall I Call Myself?

  • Writing Jobs

    That was an excellent post today. Thank you for sharing it. I really enjoyed it very much.

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  • melissa

    It’s kind of interesting that “what we are” was always, in the past, determined by external forces. You could not be called an inventor, for example, unless you had invented something someone else determined to be useful. I could not just call myself a painter – it fell upon those already in the business to determine whether you were, in fact, a painter, or just one who dabbled with paints. Now we just call ourselves what we attain to be, what we strive for, simply based on our own desire, not on any objective reality or external recognition of call or gifting. I run into this mindset all the time in the “creative realm”, but also in the educational one. Children’s books tout, “You are an inventor!”, “You are a writer!”, “You are a painter!” – really? How does this really make us strive for anything? We’ve already attained it simply by the standard of our desire to be it – what’s the point of pursuing further? And how do we know if we have grown in our ability? How do we know if we’ve failed? This subjectivism of all aspects of our industry is sad, and has not helped us achieve our goals at all – it has merely stunted our ability to pursue real, objective excellence.

    Rant over. (unless you call and chat, then I could probably work up another rant pretty quickly!!).

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