I’ve been trying to create mini business cards for myself courtesy of Moo. (Hat tips to Shulie & Bryan for the inspiration.) The trouble is, the text on the cards, underneath my name, says “Writer.” That is the whole point of creating these cards, so that I have something to distribute to people who, after some prolonged conversational interaction, ask what I do.
“Why, here you go!” I’ll be able to say, passing them a card with all relevant information neatly packaged in one place.
“How professional you are!” they’ll exclaim. “How organized! How seriously you take your what-could-be frivolous artistic pursuits!” They will squint down for a moment, then look back up at me and ask, “So you’re a writer?”
This is where it all falls apart. Despite the fact that I have been putting word after word after word since I could hold a pen with my stubby, childish hand, that writing is the only dream I have ever had and the only identity I have ever pursued, I have a hard time saying aloud, “Yes! I am a writer!” It feels boastful and naive.
Unless you are Margaret Atwood or something, anyway.
And yet, people go around saying it all the time. Friends, relatives, strangers commonly tell me they’re writers like it’s the most natural thing in the world. My brother, a lawyer, who joined the ranks of us word monkeys about, oh, five minutes ago, turned to me recently and sighed, “Do you think we’ll ever make it as writers?”
I glowered at him and replied, “Let’s get this straight. I’m Charlie Kaufman and you’re Donald.”
“Harsh,” he said after a moment. “But fair.”
Really just harsh. But it’s hard when other people traipse in and out of my playhouse uninvited, especially since I haven’t yet figured out how to monetize my playhouse or even to claim it as mine, despite how jealously I guard the entrance. And why do I bother? It’s not my playhouse at all, and that’s a good thing. Life is better with company: people to commiserate with, to talk to, to read with. There should be MORE writers, especially smart funny ones like my brother.
How do you know how much confidence is too little and how much is Just Right? Some people seem to have too much; but what if the amount they have is the amount a person needs to have to succeed?
Eventually I sorted through the jumble and I did it. I wrote “writer” under my name on the business cards and I pressed “Submit.” Even now the order is winging its way through cyberspace and in a couple of weeks, my self-confidence — or hubris, or whatever — will be immortalized in 100 little business cards I can give away, networking-style. Hopefully with a straight face.