Monday, 31 January 2011

I'm a Writer, but is that Enough?

Now I’ve finished my MA, I’ve spent a few calm days reflecting on all I’ve learnt and all I’ve achieved in the last two years. Somewhere on that journey, I became a writer. I can’t put my finger on the exact day, but it was around the same time I stopped being self-conscious about my abilities and just got on with it.

To put this in context, I was an indifferent student of both English language and literature at school; which were taught in such a way that I was left with no desire to read more classics and I perceived grammar as a form of slow torture. That my early creative instincts in writing were not encouraged, was entirely down to the tired and listless attitude of my secondary school teachers. Even after escaping from a career path of science for one in animation, it wasn’t until I began to write scripts, (both animation and live-action) that I wrote anything creative. These scripts were not to sell, but to satisfy my own urges to write narratives. At the same time I had also been steadily collating my chaotic notes for the fantasy role-playing system I had created, which, by the time I began my MA, had been distilled into two good sized, non-fiction books. And even then I didn’t think of myself as a writer.
The very reason I applied to do the Professional Writing MA at Falmouth was to earn that badge, to gain the confidence, skills, and understanding, of the written medium.Now I’m here at the point of completion, there is a temptation to think of it as some sort of big deal; certainly it’s a personal achievement, having got this far, but though I can now say I am a writer, there is more to aspire to. That I can string some words together to good effect is all very well, but the internet is full of writers: posters, bloggers, commentators, reviewers, critics, and tweeters who claim to do that. 
Even saying that I’m a writer, brings some negative baggage –’Is he actually earning a living at it, or is he just being pretentious?’ ‘It’s not really a proper job.’ ‘Anyone can be a writer these days with the aid of technology.’– Perhaps my aim should be something that implies a much greater mastery of the craft than merely being able tweet; I want to become an author. By definition the title of ‘author’ implies the creator of a piece work, it implies an omnipotence over the project that is more than simple technical fluency of the words that make it up, it cuts away all the baggage, it says I am established, successful, and published; it says I have ‘authority’ in my field.

When someone asks me what I do, and I am able to reply with simple conviction that ‘I’m an author’, is when I know I have achieved my objective.

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