Friday, August 12, 2011

soul food friday ~ what labels do you give yourself?

Are you new to soul food fridays? It's where I get all philosophical on you. Buckle up and come along for the ride. And welcome.
Ever since I came back from Bali I've been writing. Short stories, random thoughts in pretty notebooks, ideas that inconveniently float into my mind while I'm in the shower, the first sentence of something or other that's yet to fully reveal itself. 
I said in this post that I'd found what I wanted to do. And what I want, more than I think I've wanted many things in my life, is to write. And yet, even though I'm writing, even though I'm more determined about this than a lifetime of other things I've tried, I still can't offer myself the label 'writer'. Not even after having coffee with a friend the other day who told me that at least 90% of my job is writing. Which is true. But it's not the right sort of writing if you know what I mean.

So I did the only sensible thing. I started to write about my reluctance to tattoo writer on my forehead. Here's a snippet from a piece I'm working on...

     I paint. But this doesn’t make me an artist. I garden. I plant and I prune and I dig but I’m hardly a gardener. I cook but I don't call myself a cook, much less a chef.  I take photos and some of them turn out quite well. I’ve managed to capture some lovely things through my camera but do I call myself a photographer? Do you call me that? Do you call me any of these things? No. And neither do I. Because I'm not paid to cook, garden or take photos. 
     This is why, although I write, I can’t name myself writer. I can't meet someone new, shake their hand and in response to the inevitable 'what do you do?' can't bring myself to say 'I write'. It’s a label that won’t stick. It slides easily off and away like the sticker on a jam jar that's been soaking in the sink for just the right amount of time.

It's fear isn't it? And now I think about it, most of the labels I've given myself don't earn me a living, apart from my business of course. I don't get paid to be a mum, partner, reader, rambler, friend. Of course I don't. In fact I'm usually the one doling out the dollars! But I do all these things, happily and willingly. I am all of these things. We do stuff we aren't paid for, lots of it, all the time. We do it because it's worthwhile, because we have to, because these things give us pleasure and hope and add meaning to our lives. Why should 'writer' be any different? 

... I've tried so many things. Tried, failed or just got bored. My failures laugh quietly at me from the corners of my home, stashed in cupboards, shoved under beds. Half done paintings, incomplete quilts, balls of yarn artfully resting in a wicker basket under an antique desk, with its barley twist legs and beautiful brass handles. Unfinished tapestries on wooden frames are shoved away at the end of this long brown desk I’m writing at now. Flung one day between it and the window they wag their bright woolly fingers at me. Psych degrees started and abandoned. Not just once, not even twice, but three times and that's it, you're out. And I wonder whether this thing called writing will end up stashed in a cupboard or somewhere on a forgotten thumb drive.

So, dear bloggy people, as my first step, over there in the about me section, I've snuck in 'writer' along with those other things I know I am. I can say it to you here in the safety of this blogging community. I know you'll get it. And even if you don't it doesn't matter, it still feels good. I'm keeping it.
Are you a bit like me? 
What are the labels that you'd love to shout out loud to the world but can't bring yourself to do just yet? 


  1. Oh Kerry, you ARE a writer! And a fantastic one at that. I agree, there is fear in labeling oneself and for me, a shyness, a lack of confidence. I am always a bit shy calling myself an artist, it always comes secondary ( or less) after my day job and whatever else. We all need to be more confident about who we are and who we aim to be.
    Have a lovely day xx

  2. Claim it Kerry, claim it!

    Think about have we all got to know and adore you in this space? That's right, through your writing!

    And if it makes you feel more able to claim your creativity, perhaps you can go with the concept that you are a conduit for your writing along the lines of the following thought from Joan Baez:

    "It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them.
    The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page."

    Although I think you should definitely claim all the wonderfulness that is contained in your writing!

    Happy day!

    xx Felicity

  3. Well, if they're not the words of a writer, I'm not here! But I know exactly what you mean - it took me a long time to call myself an artist, in spite of telling all of my students to do just that. Money really should be the last thing to validate what we do, so why do we make it the only validation? Glad you claimed the title of 'writer' - we (your readers) have all known you to be just that for ever :) K xx

  4. You are, you have been, you will be... WHAT YOU DO! That's my two philosophical cents worth. But not my own words - from another guru ;-). Does it make them any less true? Keep on writing. Just be the writer you are :)
    Love from Paris (where I used to spend hours in cafés trying to be a writer!!!)

  5. You definitely have a way with words Kerry and therefore I think you are more than worthy to call yourself a writer. ;-)

  6. Hi Kerry,
    You are definitely a writer, your words are beautifully written. Also it's easy to understand, thanks for the inspiring post - I really enjoyed reading. Keep up the great work and positive vibes.

    Have a beautiful weekend! =(^.^)=

  7. This is a great post. I understand exactly what you mean. Good job putting this out there and claiming the title "writer". The more you say it, the easier it gets! ;)

  8. Oh, I'm EXACTLY like you Kerry. People compliment me on various things that I do but, I always brush the compliments off and say I'm just dabbling at it !! I think that it's a question of confidence really......and, possibly how much you 'want' it.
    I personally think that you could add so many things to your name and writer is right up there with them.
    From what I've seen, I think you're brilliant at everything ! So there !! XXXX

  9. I thought you'd always been a writer...This blog is written by someone who know how to write beautifully! You are a wonderful writer-embrace the title!

    Best wishes always,

    PS I'm hosting a design give away at my blog so if you have a spare 5 minutes please come and say hi!

  10. Having read your post and having been a follower here for some time now, you are 100% a writer to me!! You have such a way of expressing yourself that draws me in x

  11. It's not being paid that makes you a's being read! Your beautiful writing is read daily by hundreds of us so that makes you an excellent
    writer. I was paid for my writing for years but I do believe you deserve the title more than I do and as Jacqueline said...SO THERE!! xxx

  12. "Oh yes, my friend Kerry the writer." Now I've used it in a sentence and it sounds absolutely right and true because of course it is. Ann x (just lurking not blogging or writing - just suspended in time waiting for a computer, a table and a houseful of stuff to get across the Tasman)

  13. Oh Kerry! You are so absolutely a *writer* - I echo Felicity's and Ann's sentiments. How else would we have connected and formed such a lovely friendship? Through your words alone, that's how. And your *soul food* doesn't just wait for Fridays, either - it pours out of you. Savour it. Relish it. And own it, my friend. J x

  14. Hello!

    I so remember that 'transitional stage' of allowing myself to fully commit to be 'an artist'..!
    At first I wasn't sure I 'wanted' to be labeled 'artist'. You know, 'artists' are often seen as totally bohemian and eccentric to a point where people consider them a bit weird or odd.
    Was I willing to carry the 'label' and all the pre-coneptions that'd come with it? I felt I was more than that - darn it, I had double University degrees and I graduated as top of my class. Surely I would be seen as a failure if I was merely an 'artist'.. Of course all of this was coming from deep within myself rather from my (more than supporting and encouraging) friends. Thankfully, I slowly became more comfortable and confident with my new title and the expectations that came with it. I felt ready to live up to the challenge and I reminded myself that I had 'chosen' to leave my pacy corporate career to follow my heart. A few years down the track I am living this life fully and loving every moment of it!

    To me you are a 'life artist' Kerry. You live so well and I admire you so much! Your writing has always been marvelous and there seem to be an effortless flow that makes everything so enjoyable to read.
    You know I am one of your biggest supporters and I will be cheering along all the way. I know this is your path darling and you will do so well!

    Biggest hugs from Sweden!

    xx Charlotta

  15. You are a writer !! And you do it so well.
    I'm not a designer, but I love doing it. I'm not a artist, but I love painting. At least I can be it in my own mind !!

    Lots of love

  16. It's so lovely to 'meet' your blog... and read your writing... which I'm pretty sure qualified you as a writer! So shout it out! I mean, at least 15 other people call you a writer too, so how many more do you need?
    As for myself... independent is a word I've always wanted to attach to myself, but never felt quite ready to claim. With so many wonderful supportive people around, it's easy to feel you're being carried along in life, and scared of what would happen if you truly had to go it alone.
    - Catherine at The Spring (in Brisbane!)

  17. Dear Kerri,
    try to sell what you have written. Dare it.
    But of course you are a writer whether you have sold a writing or not. So many books on the shelves - so many written, so many forgotten. I think that in our society money is the way to tell you that you are accepted - but: it doesn't change the quality of your work. It might change the perception you have of yourself (though a lot of writers feel like frauds - fearing to be found guilty of imposting (is that the word?) But you can change the perception yourself. See yourself as a writer. You are! And: write. Write on.

  18. Kerry, you write beautifully, absolutely beautifully. Your words resonate and in doing so create ripples - what more could a writer ask for?

  19. And I'm just about to change my 'label' too and re-write my profile - I AM an interior designer!

  20. Well firstly, you most definitely are a writer, and I do believe you are beginning to believe this yourself. But I so understand your reticence to claim the title easily. After all, I'm the girl who on her blog About Me, says something along the lines of "I guess you could say, creative force..." bla bla. I don't think I believe the creative bit for a minute. And yet I did leave my former career to do what I love doing with absolutely no regrets, so something must have got through somewhere!!

  21. Congratulations. Out and Proud. Good job. I do think you are stating the obvious, however. Of course you're a writer.



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