(see what I did there?)
I’ve been hanging out with a lot of self-identified writers lately, on G+ primarily, but my personal circle contains a number of writers as well. And I don’t mean self-identified in the pejorative sense, I mean that of all the skills, talents, and job titles these persons possess, the one they most identify with is that of writer.
It’s interesting that when people ask me whether *I’m* a writer or not, my answer is “I suppose so.” This is absolutely, factually true. I consider myself a writer in that I write. But for me, the medium is not the message. The message is the message.
I’m a writer because I spent almost a decade apprenticed to the craft of writing. If I’d had more of a talent for art, that would be my medium. If I’d been interested in film-making, I’d use that to get across my ideas. If I were an activist, I would rally.
But because my skill is with the written word, I write.
What this makes me is a medium agnostic. My primary loyalty is to my ideas, to communicate them in such a way that they have the best chance of being considered by their target audience. In our increasingly cloud-centred, text-based world, writing remains one of the best ways to ensure the spread of ideas.
But I’m not fussy. Given the chance to talk, I’ll talk. Public speaking? Bring it on. Teaching a workshop? Absolutely. The conversations on other people’s blogs and on G+ is manna from heaven to me. And I’m sure that I’ll eventually add video to my repertoire, not because I enjoy video (as a way to get points across, I don’t find it useful) but because many people would rather learn that way than any other.
It’s the ideas that I’m concerned with.
Right now I’m working on two projects that I am HUGELY excited about. They’re both based around ideas and concepts that I’m exploring in my own work and writings, but I’ve been fortunate enough to find partners with which to expand my perspective and deepen my understanding. I’m as much a student to ideas as I am a master; I’m forever learning and exploring, and I value more than gold those people who help me on that journey.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a healer. Or if I have reason to believe they’ll know what I’m talking about, I tell them I’m a coach. But deep down, I see myself as a teacher.
That’s a really vulnerable admission for me. I have a lot of issues around claiming the label. I’m too young, too sure of myself, haven’t suffered enough, or perhaps haven’t healed enough, haven’t studied enough, and most of all, I have no right to claim that title in front of people three times my age. Look at you, you ridiculous girl. You don’t even know not that you know not! Stop embarrassing yourself.
But those are all just excuses for shielding myself from ridicule. It’s not that I don’t think I’ll grow into a much wiser teacher as the years go by, but that I believe I’m a good teacher now, and that I’ve been one for a long time. I knew it at 14, that I was meant to show people their path, help them to understand, to release their regrets, to move through life joyfully.
I’ve been really inspired by Drew at The Rogue Priest claiming the path of Hero. He’s defined his role, and his goal, mapped out his path, and he admits right up front that under his definition of a hero, he may never make it.
It’s the same with being a teacher. When people think of great teachers, they think Jesus, Ghandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a title you can’t claim on your own, it can only be bestowed. And you can’t earn it by thinking every day, “What will make people believe I’m a really great teacher?” You just have to go about your business being you.
But when you get right down to it, that’s the biggest reason why I don’t claim to be a writer, or anything else, really. I’m going for a bigger, more meaningful title, and until then, I don’t want to be anything at all. I’m acolyte, a scholar, and apprentice. I’m living my life in service to these ideas, ideas that bring comfort, inspiration, a desire to strive, to challenge oneself, to delight in life and glory in experiences. They won’t be useful to some people, but they’ll be useful to many, if I can only humble myself to polish them, refine them, cast them in forms and language that people can understand, so they can see where they fit in life, see where they can tinker with the stuff of life: experience.
So call me by any designation you wish; it’s all the same to me. I’ll toil and strive, carding and teasing the ideas from the dross, spinning and weaving them into white samite. I love the work and I do it with all my heart.
“Your Work is to discover your Work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha