Is it truly possible that I can call myself a writer? When are you the thing that you aspire to be if there is no actual job vacancy? Is it the mere act of writing that makes you a writer or does it only count when you are published in some way; is money the best indicator of your profession?
My issue with all of this is that, however much I hate may them, we live in a world where labels matter. We have some labels, titles, that get respect – it’s why often the most middling jobs get the word ‘manager’ snuck into them – and some that we just assume to be our adult right, or destiny. We imagine that at some stage we will be grown-ups, that we will be a parent, that we will be a partner, that we will own a property; that we will accumulate together a few titles that mean we can confidently go forth into the world and make small talk introductions to other people that state who we are in a few quick labels. Even your car insurers want to know who you are, or rather what your labels are.
Most jobs, or professional labels, come with a salary from an external person. You apply for a job, go through a selection process and then, if you are lucky, you are bestowed a title. This is who you, for this time at least, are. You are a manager, or assistant, or delivery person. Almost as soon as we gather this professional title we are looking for ways to change it or, to be more honest, improve upon it.
The perceived lack of other titles, aka life goals, is perceived as a different type of failure. We want to fit in. We want to be easily understood and successful. We want to be a significant other and a parent. We don’t want to be a spinster.
So here’s the thing; most titles, or labels, are things that we ourselves choose to attain but that are ultimately vested upon us by other people. This makes choosing titles and just giving them to yourself quite difficult, well for me at least. I feel like such a fraud saying that I am a writer, when all I have to show for it is this blog. People instantly want to see your novels lined up like JK Rowling or know which magazine your articles appear in. Maybe they are right – that you need to be a published or at least paid author to truly be a writer – but I am not sure how I get to those places until I believe enough in the label to actually put my stuff out there in the first place.