soul food friday ~ what labels do you give yourself?

on Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are you new to soul food fridays? It's where I get all philosophical on you. Buckle up and come along for the ride. And welcome.
Ever since I came back from Bali I've been writing. Short stories, random thoughts in pretty notebooks, ideas that inconveniently float into my mind while I'm in the shower, the first sentence of something or other that's yet to fully reveal itself. 
I said in this post that I'd found what I wanted to do. And what I want, more than I think I've wanted many things in my life, is to write. And yet, even though I'm writing, even though I'm more determined about this than a lifetime of other things I've tried, I still can't offer myself the label 'writer'. Not even after having coffee with a friend the other day who told me that at least 90% of my job is writing. Which is true. But it's not the right sort of writing if you know what I mean.

So I did the only sensible thing. I started to write about my reluctance to tattoo writer on my forehead. Here's a snippet from a piece I'm working on...

     I paint. But this doesn’t make me an artist. I garden. I plant and I prune and I dig but I’m hardly a gardener. I cook but I don't call myself a cook, much less a chef.  I take photos and some of them turn out quite well. I’ve managed to capture some lovely things through my camera but do I call myself a photographer? Do you call me that? Do you call me any of these things? No. And neither do I. Because I'm not paid to cook, garden or take photos. 
     This is why, although I write, I can’t name myself writer. I can't meet someone new, shake their hand and in response to the inevitable 'what do you do?' can't bring myself to say 'I write'. It’s a label that won’t stick. It slides easily off and away like the sticker on a jam jar that's been soaking in the sink for just the right amount of time.

It's fear isn't it? And now I think about it, most of the labels I've given myself don't earn me a living, apart from my business of course. I don't get paid to be a mum, partner, reader, rambler, friend. Of course I don't. In fact I'm usually the one doling out the dollars! But I do all these things, happily and willingly. I am all of these things. We do stuff we aren't paid for, lots of it, all the time. We do it because it's worthwhile, because we have to, because these things give us pleasure and hope and add meaning to our lives. Why should 'writer' be any different? 

... I've tried so many things. Tried, failed or just got bored. My failures laugh quietly at me from the corners of my home, stashed in cupboards, shoved under beds. Half done paintings, incomplete quilts, balls of yarn artfully resting in a wicker basket under an antique desk, with its barley twist legs and beautiful brass handles. Unfinished tapestries on wooden frames are shoved away at the end of this long brown desk I’m writing at now. Flung one day between it and the window they wag their bright woolly fingers at me. Psych degrees started and abandoned. Not just once, not even twice, but three times and that's it, you're out. And I wonder whether this thing called writing will end up stashed in a cupboard or somewhere on a forgotten thumb drive.

So, dear bloggy people, as my first step, over there in the about me section, I've snuck in 'writer' along with those other things I know I am. I can say it to you here in the safety of this blogging community. I know you'll get it. And even if you don't it doesn't matter, it still feels good. I'm keeping it.
Are you a bit like me? 
What are the labels that you'd love to shout out loud to the world but can't bring yourself to do just yet?