Stop with that "aspiring" sh*t. You are a writer.
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Too many times we turn to recognition from others as the sign we’ve made it. That somehow, without their accolades we have done nothing to propel ourselves. In the world of writing, recognition comes in the form of New York Times’ bestsellers list, editors clawing to work with you, and publishers offering deals so huge you can retire. Without these things we sometimes do not see ourselves as writers. So, does that mean without the aforementioned we are doomed to live in the realm of “aspiring?” The answer is no. And that’s because you can’t “aspire” to be a writer when that is what you already are.
I have been putting pen and pencil to paper, and fingers to keyboards, since childhood. From mediocre poetry to amateur scripts to personal essays I have dabbled in it all. Sometimes sharing my writing but mostly keeping it to myself. The initial step to share it with
the public was hard. What if no one likes it? What if it doesn’t draw attention? What if..? What if..? What if…? You get my drift. Most of my writing was only accepted by blogs. No national publications accepted my work (not that that stops me from submitting). So, I felt very much like I wasn’t a writer. I didn’t believe I had done enough work yet, or accomplished enough with my writing, to give myself that title. It was after reading Richard Wright’s Black Boy that I changed my perspective.
One part, in particular, made me feel connected to Mr. Wright as a person questioning skills and desires. He writes:
I spent my nights reading Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past, admiring the lucid, subtle but strong prose, stupefied by its dazzling magic, awed by the vast, delicate, intricate, and psychological structure of the Frenchman’s epic of death and decadence. But it crushed me with hopelessness, for I wanted to write of the people in my environment with an equal thoroughness, and the burning example before my eyes made me feel that I never could.
I felt those words. A revered writer, though not yet famous at the time he was crafting these words, felt the same way I did. He was questioning himself. Richard Wright. It blew me away. I thought if someone as good as he could question himself, and then create the works he did, then I must be on the right track. Because generations apart, Mr. Wright and I felt the same. Those feelings of self doubt are universal and transcend time. Though their voices are strong, it’s up to the individual not to believe them.
Aspiring means “directing one’s hopes or ambitions toward becoming a specified type of person.” When I think about this definition, becoming stands out. You’re working to become a writer. You know a synonym for aspire is “would be?” It’s kind of depressing. I’m a would-be writer. I can hear why aspiring is used more often. But is it really better? Whether you use aspiring or would-be it still means the same. It all means you have not claimed who you are.
If you’re calling yourself, or introducing yourself, as an aspiring writer, stop that immediately. Claim your stuff. Claim your identity. Claim your birthright. Bask in the fact that you are courageous enough to be who you are without others’ validation. That is power. And it’s all wrapped up in four little words: I…am…a…writer. Because that’s who you are.