At a recent networking event, someone asked me, “What do you do?” and I heard myself say, “I am a writer.” I was surprised to hear myself say those words.
That conversation got me thinking of the titles I have used to describe myself or titles others have ascribed to me. I have been “the boss” for many years, my primary work role.
In the Enneagram, a personality typography system of numbers one through nine, I am an “eight,” also known as “the boss.” It fits. It is a role I fall into naturally. You can verify that with anyone who has worked with or for me. That title captures both what I do and who I am.
But writing has been more an internal process for me rather than a title I claimed. Although I have been writing most of my life, it has mainly been in my head or my journal. Oh sure, I have written for work—letters, grant applications, newsletter pieces and even blogs—all relating to my work. But, my reflective, more personal writing was more private—until I became a ghost writer about ten years ago.
A friend was appointed pastor and had to write a weekly reflection for the parish bulletin. He asked if I wanted to be the “voice of the pastor.” I jumped at the chance. I got to write weekly reflections on the Sunday readings and parish events—and share them. People were reading my thoughts and reflections. I got lots of feedback, just no credit. And I was ok with that.
Ghost writing was a great way for me to become more comfortable with publicizing my personal reflections. After eight years of ghost writing, I was ready to claim my work and write under my own name.
Last November, I participated in the National Novel Writing Month challenge (write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days). At a kick-off event in October, someone asked if anyone at our table had ever published. It took a minute for me to remember that I had published two pieces, one on an NPR radio show and one in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “You can put ‘published author’ on your business card,” one woman suggested. New thought, new titles—I am an author; I am a writer.