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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

You call yourself a writer?!

by DarleneRH (writer), New York, February 08, 2007

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...Or actor, poet, model, artist, designer?

The list of "titles" goes on and on. Literally everyday in New York, creative folks transplant themselves into our shoebox-shaped railroad apartments to begin their career in some sort of creative or performing art. Hope runs high and money often runs low. In many cases, in order to afford both the rent for their sublet and the dollar menu at Wendy's, they have to take some sort of temp or waitressing job to even make it here long enough before they eat through their savings like a bear in a shopping mall.

I am one of those people. Thankfully I’ve lived in NY for what I consider "long enough" to be a full-fledged resident, complete with nifty NY license and subscription to Time Out. I've been the proud name on more then one lease, met my husband at an off Broadway theater, and even work full-time at one of those corporate jobs to pay for my performing and additional creative pursuits...what I lovingly call my career as opposed to where I am writing this article from; what I not-so-lovingly refer to as my day job. Also known as "what pays the bills."

When asked by someone I'm introduced to at a party, "What do you do?" I reply, "I'm an actress. I also write poetry and comedy cabarets."

Unless that person is a total jackass, they get what I’m saying and follow up with, "Oh, great! Where do you work?" and I quietly mumble the name of my "corporate sponsor," if you will.

However, there are times when people practically laugh in your face when you tell them you are a writer or actor, designer, etc. They demand to know what qualifies you to make that sort of statement.

Are you published? Have you been in anything I would know? Do you have a degree in graphic design or just freelance? Are you signed with an agency? The questions are always different, but point to the same overall query: When are you "official" enough, to say you are what you are passionate about? If your creativity doesn't pay the bills, or Hollywood hasn't heard of you just yet, are you not actually what you're striving to be?

A college professor of mine told me once: "You write, therefore you are a writer." Many folks would argue that not even a degree in writing makes you a writer; you have to be officially published and establish a name for yourself before you can throw that title around.

Some people believe you are whatever pays your bills. Meaning, if you are cast in a modeling show that pays you to walk down the runway, you are then a model. If someone buys your article or casts you in a paying show, you are then a paid writer or actress, and can go about your life being honest with the world.

Personally, I think you are what you strive to be, what you work at consistently, what you're passionate about, where your talent lies. Although many can debate what "talent" is, you'll never please everyone. I've been lucky enough to build a half-decent resume for myself here, but there will always be someone with more experience, more connections, more everything. That doesn't worry me. I know who I am and what I have to offer.

The moral of the story is: ignore the constant questions challenging what you call yourself. Everything is a "label" and labels are confining to even the most elaborate of personalities. Everyone was an "unknown" at some point in his or her career. There is always a point in your life where you either make it, or you don't. Just don't give up because some people are too insecure with themselves to let you be you.



About the Writer

DarleneRH is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on You call yourself a writer?!

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By nycfashionista5 on February 08, 2007 at 03:00 pm
Excellent article. We all are what we want to be. I feel so much more confident in my life knowing that you wrote this article. It means we aren't alone. I'm just finally putting my writing out there with this website.
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By Lainie on February 14, 2007 at 10:56 pm
Great article! Very inspiring!
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By riginal on April 20, 2013 at 02:24 pm

What rites has a writer? "Dat is de question!"It's about as relevant as the Phantom being arrested for being being drunk at the pokies in Las Vegas "and out of his Skull." It's all relative don't you think? And even the relatives heap scorn upon us writers? cheers...

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By Credo on September 01, 2013 at 06:50 pm

Experience of any kind is acquired by repetition, study, and practice; something that most people understand. It can be annoying when someone would require you to validate your chosen occupation, when meeting people it is not that serious. Being confident enough in yourself and your chosen profession should be enough to command respect.Concise informative article...Great job!Credo

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By JennyT on September 01, 2013 at 07:15 pm

Aspirations, dreams of being acknowledged for not only who we are in life but what we do. Writers ..ahh how nice it would be if we introduced ourselves as JK for instance, but sadly most of us can not (I included) As Credo has said we do not have to validate to anyone only to ourselves. Our passion for writing - I am a writer (yes I did an EPub) and I am not ashamed to say it to the world, is simply who we are whether we have a title for it or not. No branding can be put on a writer, we write because it is what we must do - our passion. If we are fortunate enough to be recognised for that talent all good. If not, nothing in this world would stop me from doing what I do...writing comes to me naturally as breathing and I shall never cease. Great article Darlene.

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