I am what I am


When I first put this incarnation of Exile on Ninth Street up, I thought of using it as a reading journal of sorts, specifically to record the experience of my 100-novels reading project.

As I’ve posted, though, I’ve also written about other readings, about writing, and occasionally about my personal life. Recently I’ve made posts about writing regularly, and promising myself to write regularly, whether here at the blog or freelance or exercises or just writing, but each time I’ve done that, I haven’t held to that promise.

This morning I was thinking about it and began to wonder if the problem is that I haven’t been thinking of myself as a writer. And I think I began to stop thinking of myself as a writer a couple of years ago when I left my full time daily newspaper job 2 1/2 years ago to begin a brief stint as an adjunct writing instructor at a community college (my advice is not to work as an adjunct, unless you have a full time job or have some other source of substantial income; otherwise you’ll be working with no or few benefits, and no promise of classes, unless you want to drive all over creation — at least in Texas — to grab as many classes as possible. The more I think about it, the more I agree with Jerome Weeks’s assessment — the use of adjuncts and other part time faculty by colleges and universities is “sweatshop exploitation.”)

Now, I’m a textbook editor, and I’ve never thought of myself as an editor, though I was the lifestyles and religion editor at the paper. At the newspaper, I thought of myself as a writer; I was obsessive about being a writer, always trying to improve technique or style or voice. Editing, back then, was simply part of the job, not the thrust of what I was doing. Recently I haven’t had the same urgency, the same passionate drive to write, because all I’ve done — professionally, at least — is edit. While thinking of myself as an editor, I’ve written a handful of blog posts, and one published freelance story since July.

I’ve been trying think of myself as a writer again, not an editor, to think of myself as an editor only in the context that it is my job and not what I am. I’m trying to regain that urgent sense that everything has to be written down, that there are stories to be written. That there are words, sentences and paragraphs to be written, because I am a writer.

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