Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back on the Blog Chain: What Makes You a Writer?

For this time around, Michelle asked the following philosophical question:

Do you choose what you do because of who you are? Or is who you are determined by what you do?

Mandy posted before me, and Eric comes next.

Personally, I think questions like this are best answered by "yes." Your innate traits and tendencies as well as your actions affect your identity; it's not a case of only one or the other. In fact, I think they work together.

We are all products of both our genes and our environment. Genes may set the potential, but the environment can affect how well those genes are expressed. Together, your genes and your environment give you traits that make you better at some things than others. For example, as a five-foot woman, I'm not very good at basketball; however, I have good verbal skills. For the sake of argument, let's say that people tend to prefer doing things they're good at over things that they're not so good at. Since I have good verbal skills, I enjoy reading and spend a lot of time doing it--or at least as much as time permits these days. My love of books and reading is part of what led me to start writing. However, by definition, a writer is someone who writes, so action is essential here. It took me a while to realize I was good at writing and enjoyed it, but the more I practiced writing, the better I became at it, and the more writing became a part of what I am. Other factors in my life influenced what I wrote about, but the more I wrote in the science fiction/fantasy genre, the more I identified with it.

I think many working people identify themselves by their jobs, no matter how they feel about them. If you lose your job or get transferred to a new position, it can cause an identity crisis. Still, there are some parts of my identity that do not change with my job title. While I may have good writing days and bad ones (today was one of the latter), writing has become a part of who I am, just as my love of science will always be a part of who I am, even if I never perform another research experiment.

Finally, I would like to answer this philosophical question with one of my own: why does it seem to be part of human nature to want something to be one thing or the other instead of embracing the duality? Although it may be easier to assign things to strict categories, in real life, there is also a lot of overlap. Acknowledging the overlap will help you see things as they really are.

11 comments:

christine said...

Brilliant blog post Sandra! LOVE IT. And I, for one, am all abut the duality. Thanks for giving me a lot to think about.

Eric said...

Interesting reply to the question. I'm not sure I agree with you about the duality, but I can see where you're coming from. Great reminder though, about how being a writer takes action. Enjoying the prospect of writing is one thing, but actually being a writer means you have to do it. It's a good point, and I'm glad you made it. I'll see if I can follow this up with something equally interesting.

Michelle McLean said...

You are right, there is a lot of overlap, as in most things :) Excellent post!

B.J. Anderson said...

Great take on the subject. Very enlightening post, Sandra!

Kat Harris said...

why does it seem to be part of human nature to want something to be one thing or the other instead of embracing the duality?

My head is going to explode thinking about questions like this.

:-)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I like your balanced take on this subject - you make very good arguments for both questions. As for your counter-question - my answer is: For the sake of simplicity?

Mandy said...

Excellent post Sandra! I'm loving how deeply everyone has addressed a seemingly simple question.

Cole Gibsen said...

Very different reply from what we've seen so far - loved it!

Sarah Bromley said...

Great post! I'm a Libra, so I'm all about balancing dualities. I don't like tipping too far one way or the other. If there's a way for me to do both, I will.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

I second the brilliance of this answer. We like categories because they help us define the chaos. Defining ourselves as writers (and husbands/wives and geeks and whatever else) helps us determine what we're supposed to do with our lives.

Rejecting categorization means embracing chaos and disorder, which isn't negative, though it sounds it. I studied Medieval Literature, yet I work with computers and I write and I paint and I studied to be an EMT and a Firefigther. I am defined by all and none of these things.

bloggingexperiments said...

It's all about the gray area, baby! Overlap, duality...it's what makes life interesting! :)

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