A funny thing happened to me this week. Inspired by a conversation with a friend, I sat down and wrote a blog post about my sweet, stubborn, ham of a daughter who happens to have spina bifida. That’s not the funny part. I could write about my messy, magical children all day long, and I do write about them pretty darn often. But that post in particular resonated with some people, who shared it on Twitter, where it was re-tweeted and shared some more.
Here is where I should mention that this blog is pretty small potatoes. An average post gets a couple to a few hundred views. A really good post may barely clear a thousand. Rarely, when WordPress has featured my content on their Freshly Pressed page, I’ll get several thousand. So, I was pretty proud of how that post was doing when it got over a thousand views on its own, with no one else featuring it.
I was proud not because I’m making money off of clicks or something (to date, I have earned a few free meals and one grocery gift card from this blog), but because I write to connect with people and when people start sharing my work and tweeting about it, I know that something has struck home. I happily showed my stats to my husband and felt warm and fuzzy inside.
And then, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an email from a HuffPost Parents editor in my inbox, asking if I’d be willing to let them syndicate my post. Thrilled, I agreed. In the process of getting the post ready for HuffPost, I had to write a little bio. No big deal, right? I have Pinterest and Twitter and Instagram and blog bios and profiles and about me’s, so surely I could just use one of those. But none felt right. And what am I, anyway? A stay at home mom, since I’m on an indefinite hiatus from grad school?
What I came up with was this: “Sarah Sweatt Orsborn is a writer living in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, twin daughters, two dogs, and one not-so-Tinycat. Her work is most frequently found on her site, The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo.”
And then I thought…who are you to call yourself a writer? It’s not your job. Nobody’s paying you to do it. Are you even good enough to claim to be a writer?
But you know what? I am a writer. Writing is just part of who I am. It’s how I make sense of the world, it’s how I process the things that happen to me, and it’s how I figure out what I really think and feel. Before there was an internet, I was writing letters and journals, because it’s just what I do. I even pray best when writing it down. I don’t have to be paid or hired or titled to be a writer, because I am one, always have been. It’s how I connect with myself, with God, and with others.
This realization and reclamation of my identity as a writer actually reminded me of a time when Mary Steenburgen gave a talk at my college. We all know her well as an Academy Award-winning actress, but what she shared was her reclaimed love of painting, a passion she has returned to as an adult after many years away. She pointed out how as children, we are encouraged to dance, sing, and make art. But somewhere along the way, we say, “I’m not a dancer. I’m not a singer. I’m not a painter.” Because we think others dance, sing, or paint better than we do, or because we feel like we aren’t good enough to claim the title. But if dancing, singing, painting, or writing gives you joy or makes you who you are, you’re a dancer, a singer, a painter.
I won’t shy away from being a writer anymore. Are you a writer? A dancer? A painter? What titles or passions have you shrugged off that could use reclaiming?