What you are

Unless I believe that it would be better – for insurance purposes, say (I have heard that writers are riskier people) – not to be a writer, I now have the temerity to call me a writer. I have done for some time.

Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t go round daily patting me on the back, crowing over how wonderful I am. But the whole idea came back to me when reading the thoughts of Jackie Morris in the comments section of my interview with her Australian colleague Shaun Tan yesterday. (For some inexplicable reason WordPress have removed the comments from the right hand bar on the Bookwitch home page, meaning browsing guests won’t immediately find it.)

Jackie wants to be seen as an artist, not only an illustrator. She is right. She is entitled to want to be seen as one, and I reckon she definitely is an artist. I suppose I don’t feel that to be an illustrator is bad either, but I know what Jackie means. Shaun is a modest man, but he is obviously also an artist.

What you are has little to do with whether you earn money from doing what you want to be. I write every day. Hence I am a writer. I don’t have to be chosen by anyone to say that. Not by a publisher. Not even by readers.

When I was younger I always wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be bilingual; and guess what! I am. It doesn’t mean a person is 100% perfect at two or more languages. It means that someone uses those languages in their daily life. It probably doesn’t mean you are 50% in both, or 30/70. Most of us are likely to be 150% when both languages are taken together. Perhaps. Good. Adequate.

(For obvious reasons I don’t generally think of myself as a dishwasher-filler. But I’d be entitled to, unless ten minutes a day is too brief for name-calling.)

9 responses to “What you are

  1. You are definitely a writer. And much more than adequate bilingually. Although I must admit, I don’t know how good your Swedish is.

  2. It took me years and about 4 books before I would admit that I am a writer also. Blogging was kind of how I began. But I had written 2 books by then. One had won awards. The other had sold many thousands of copies and now and again I still find battered and loved copies in second hand shops.Years. What writing and being a writer is about, what being an artist is about is ways of thinking. It’s about having a voice and being able to express thoughts.
    Your blog is dangerous. So very dangerous. I could loose myself in its myriad walkways of delight.
    So, are you a writer? Yes. And you are also a wonderful door keeper, a path finder. A catalyst for thought.

  3. Thanks, Jackie.
    Seana, I am good at different things in the languages. I have a better grounding in Swedish, but am rusty-ish, and not up to date on what people say and how. In English I have a good current knowledge, but it is so very narrow. I used a new word this week, because the Resident IT Consultant used it and I thought I must start using new words so I can get used to them and maybe they’ll stick. Some words and phrases I still remember who told me them and when and where (rather than the natural way of picking up langauge). And what I don’t have are the words I’d have used at 10 or 16 or 23, along with all my friends. It makes me stiff and weird. These days I steal on facebook.
    What I should do is religiously follow this blog http://confessionofignorance.blogspot.co.uk
    and make a point of learning useful words off it…🙂

  4. One the one hand, a writer is just someone who writes. Although simplistic, it separates out a lot of people who fancy themselves as writers but who aren’t actually writing. On the other hand, I also agree with Jackie. It’s a sensibility as much as an activity.

    I don’t know if you should follow the blog you mention. Personally, I wouldn’t trust it further than I could throw it. On the other hand I have–I mean, the blogger has–put a post about a British word today that even has a bit of a Scottish angle. Proceed at your own risk…

  5. Yeah, tannoy isn’t weird at all. Couldn’t have told you all that background stuff, but it turns up frequently enough. I think it’s fascinating the words we know, or don’t know. (Or for that matter, how to pronounce them.)

    • Paul D. Brazill posted in to say t hat he thought it was a slightly old-fashioned word. That is one of the kind of things that’s very hard to judge from afar. The writer did not seem particularly out of touch, though, judging by the rest of the novel.

      • I think only old-fashioned the way if you are older you use words you are used to, while younger people don’t. My light Swedish slang is 1960s, and I probably sound antiquated.
        Today I might well write PA system instead of tannoy, but it’d depend on the style you are after.

  6. It is interesting to think how many words we understand but for one reason or another would rarely use except to communicate to a group somewhat different than our own.

  7. I noticed in a Swedish magazine recently how one younger (than me) man described a piece of furniture as (and I’m translating here) ‘vulture handsome.’ I think it sounds awful, but realised that I’d have said ‘giant handsome…’

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