On Defining Who You Are

Matt Gemmell, in a terrific introspective piece in which he tries to figure out who he is:

I’ve always hesitated to call myself a writer, even though I’d like to. I undoubtedly am one, but it’s another thing entirely to characterise yourself that way. I don’t have any published novels, for example, though I’d like to change that. I’ve written dozens of pieces for various publications, but we have the word “journalist” for that situation. Similarly, we have “blogger”, which is usually the least respected of the three titles (entirely undeservedly).

The thing is, I’ve actually written more than half a million words here. That’s about five novels. My readership (including you, dear reader) is at least an order of magnitude larger than my customers, users of my code, and attendees of my presentations combined.

I block quote the above passage because as a writer myself, I most identify with Matt in this context.

If you check out my LinkedIn profile — yes, I use LinkedIn — you'll see that I've been a freelancer for 7 months. When "Re-Enabled" ran in The Magazine, I struggled mightily with the concept that I was now officially a writer. In the months since, I've had several more articles published (with more on the way), and I still struggle somewhat with calling myself a writer. Somehow it doesn't feel real at times, maybe because I haven't been doing this as long as most of the people I interact with nowadays. My background doesn't include a Journalism or an English degree. Then again, I've run Steven's Blog for almost three-and-a-half years and written over 100,000 words here. All things considered, that's a lot of work put in.

So, I am a writer — I probably always have been, despite taking so long to follow my dream.

I also make no qualms about calling myself a nerd. Actually, I'm quite proud of it.

See also: in a similarly-veined piece, Marco Arment discusses being a programmer.