Seeking legitimacy

via Daily Prompt: Elaborate
“I’m a writer.”
I can’t say that with a straight face.
I feel I have to shuffle my feet a little and blush, or let loose with a tiny cascade of embarrassed giggles, so people don’t think I made that statement seriously.
I’m also an actress.
No, you probably never saw me onstage. No, I never made any money at it. No, I have no idea whether I was any good… some notices were favorable, and others were kind of cruel. No, I haven’t done it in years, but it’s certainly an integral part of who I am, and always will be. It’s what I studied. It’s what I struggled to perfect. It’s what I thought about whenever my mind was unleashed.
Einstein was a physicist when he worked in the patent office. I held many day jobs while I spent my nights on stage, but I never defined myself by the titles on my business cards.
I was and I am an actress, just as I really am a writer.
Have I been published?
Well, if you count insurance training manuals, a few spiral-bound books on how to sell more channels to cable TV customers, a few proprietary guides on how to use Word, Excel and Power Point (all out of date), and dumpstersful of junk mail, yes. My work has been seen in print. My name, though, has never appeared on any cover. Elaborate measures have been taken to assure that everything I’ve written for money remains anonymous.
I have tons of unfinished and unpublished things lying about, though, and some of them might have been good, had they not been stillborn. There were a couple of plays… a few chapters of a novel…a day-by-day account of what it was like to be on a real diet. (That one actually grew bigger than 80 pages, until I went to Dunkin’ Donuts and shot it to hell with an extra-large Coolatta®).
(Damn, it was delicious.)
And now I have a blog.
So yes, I’m a writer.
I’m not a copy writer, not a technical writer, not a publicist, and not the sort of whore who sells her work by word, or by the hour. At least not exclusively.
I am a writer.
And when I say that, I expect derision from the person who’s listening.
After all, what makes me so special? Everyone’s a writer. Everyone takes pen to paper and puts down words that mean something. Six-year-olds write compositions that say what they did on vacation. Teenagers bang out texts and memes that are often seen by millions. Lawyers produce volumes of unintelligible dribble, by which the rest of us have to abide.
Why should I seek legitimacy as a writer when others who write do not?
I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because I can’t NOT write. Maybe it’s because I can’t put pen to paper without thinking about every word, and making sure it says exactly the right thing. Maybe it’s because I agonize over every sentence and every paragraph… is it understandable? Is it readable? Is it pleasant? Does it convey the right intention? Is it necessary?
I don’t think fast enough to speak well, but by golly, I seem to write just at the right speed. The words come out just fine.
Even so, I try to make them better.
Maybe I’m a writer because that’s the work that I do with my heart.


3 thoughts on “Seeking legitimacy

  1. You aced it, Ampy! You ARE a writer and a mighty fine one at that! These personal essays are your genre — at least one of them! – and I appreciate the vulnerability, humor, and craft of each one. Keep ’em coming!


  2. Do you write? Then you are a writer. You mean — you’ve gone on stage and real people saw you do it? You’re an actor.

    Whether you are a professional actor or writer is a different discussion and I have been rethinking that in recent months, but are you a writer and an actor? You are. Are you the best in the world? Probably not. Neither am I.

    Who IS the best? I can tell you who made the most money, but is that the best?

    Just keep doing what you do. You’ll get better. If you have any talent, if you keep at it, you’ll find it. And more important, it will find YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

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