Monday, September 21, 2009

Who Am I?

This week on the blog chain we are getting all existential with a question brought to us by Michelle:

Do you choose WHAT you do because of WHO you are? Or is who you are determined by what you do?

Wow. BIG question. It's not quite: "what's the meaning of life", but it's pretty darn close.

So, I'm just going to jump right in and say straight out: I label myself by what I do. This means that even though I have been writing stories for as long as I've known how to put words on paper, I wouldn't say "I've been a writer my whole life." I mean, I've always had a passion for writing, but then again I've always had a passion for chocolate, but I wouldn't call myself a chocolatier either.

The thing is despite the notebooks that I've over the years filled with short stories and bits of novels - writing was very rarely my focus. In undergrad I planned on getting an English degree, but then the acting bug bit and suddenly I was working towards a BFA in theatre. Even though I loved the opportunities to write - even taking a playwriting class - the experience that I seized upon during those four years for my future goals was when I directed a one-act play my senior year. I was meant to direct, I decided, and not wanting to limit myself to the stage I headed off to California for film school.

Luckily, the MFA program at Chapman encouraged writer/directors, which meant that I had the chance to do not only do a lot of writing, but also see it come to life on screen. Even as I fell out of love with directing, I came to became more passionate than ever about my writing. I still wasn't a writer though. Why? Because over the next few years I intermittently worked on one full length screenplay and began a handful of half-baked novels.

So when did I actually become a writer? That is difficult to capture. Was it two years ago when I began writing the first novel that I would actually finish? Was it when I began to research how to send that novel out to agent's and had to tackle my first query letter? Was it when I received my first agent request or, even better, my first rejections? Or maybe it was the moment when I trunked that first book and started writing the second one?

Perhaps it is simply the accumulation of all those moments.

And is there a moment when I would stop being a writer? I think so, and that one is easier to pin-point - it's when I say to myself, "Enough with this writing crap. It's time to follow my real passion: chocolate!"

Okay, what about you: are you a believer in the motto "writers write" or do you think there is something more to the whole thing than merely action? And was there a moment when you first said to yourself, "I am a writer?"

For more thoughts on this topic make sure to check out Rebecca before me and Amanda who is up next!


  1. Great post Kate. I like reading everyone's take on the question...I can guaranteeall of you that I will swing this whole thing into another direction when is my turn...MWAHAHAHAHA

  2. After doing the Myers-Briggs personality test and discovering my type is called Author/Counselor and I've been a social worker and now a writer, I think who you are has a lot to do with it.

  3. I've always loved writing, always sort of done it, but didn't try to actually become "a writer" until a few years ago. But there is just that certain essence of "me" that sort of led me in this direction I think. Which is why I believe that the things I do are more determined by who am I than the other way around. Because if I wasn't "me" I'd be doing something else entirely :D

    Great post!! And I'm now craving to raid the baking cupboard *I know there are some chocolate chips in there somewhere*

  4. I guess I was always a writer, I just never knew it.

    I grew up, in a place and time without - gasp - computers, video games, cd players, dvd players, etc. As kids, during the summer, get up, eat breakfast, outside until lunch, eat lunch, outside until dinner, eat dinner, outside until I heard Mom hollering for us, and the other mothers in the neighborhood as well.

    During the day, many times, the pack of kids in the neighborhood would become characters from current/past tv shows and just have a grand old time using our imaginations. At night, it was Ghost in the Graveyard, Kick the Can, and the best of the best, Flashlight Tag.

    I truly didn't begin to put pen to paper until I was around 18. Still, I didn't consider myself a writer. I just wanted to know what happened to the characters in a certain book after 'The End', so I wrote what happened and then slowly began to create my own characters and worlds.

    Still, I didn't consider myself a writer until many years later.

    Did my childhood shape the path I'm now on? Possibly. I mean, when you immerse yourself in your imagination, when you create different scenes of action, not on paper, but in reality, then I guess you're a writer . . . or will be some day.

    Excellent post.


  5. Great post, and a nice look into where you came from. Oh, and I share your love of chocolate. Too much, probably.

  6. Yikes. Well, I love the first question but don't have a clearcut answer. It's almost like the chicken and the egg question, really circular. LOL

    But for your last one, I do believe writers write. :-) But I don't think it can be encapsulated in a time frame or a certain type of writing, if that makes sense. Ack. I'm eating chocolate right now and my brain isn't working too well. Great post!

  7. Ha! Love the Calvin and Hobbs reference :)

    What a great post! It's really interesting to see that while each post has been our own "version" everyone's answers have been fairly close.

  8. I agree--love the Calvin & Hobbs comic!

    Very good points, and a great post! I tend to agree w/ you on the "you are what you do." I get irked when people call themselves authors who haven't published anything yet, because I feel like that's a title I'll have to earn through that accomplishment.

    Lots to think about!

  9. Great post. Now all this talk about chocolate has me hungry. Really cool perspective in your answer.

  10. Oh, I've been saying, "I'm a writer," for a long, long time.

    It's just that the voice with which I say it has grown stronger over the past decade.

  11. Great post! I loved your perspective and of course, the references to chocolate. If only it had been my calling.... I'd have an actual excuse for my waistline! ;)

  12. I like this a lot because I always "felt" like I was a writer but I didn't take it seriously until a couple of years ago. Even when I went for a couple of years without writing anything, I thought of myself as a writer. Now that I'm actually writing, I feel like it's just this one small (but important) part of the whole.