Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stop Nouning Yourself ...

The other day, I was talking to someone about my job, and she asked, "So, after this book, do you think you'll want to write another one?"
The question struck me as being completely ... odd. My reaction was, "Of course."
That's just it, though. That was my reaction. And I'm still thinking about the question. And I realized something very bizarre. Sometime between writing my first article and my latest novel, I "became" a writer. Sure. Isn't that great?
Not so much. Because what if I don't want to write another book? Or. Let's be real. What many people see me as "being" is, in reality, "being published." There are thousands and thousands of writers out there who aren't published.
So, if you're a writer and not published, are you still a writer?
If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

See what I'm getting at here?
Also when we "become" something, the equation changes. Possibility becomes inevitability. Maybe becomes definitely. So how I've become to define myself over the last years hinges on my work.
I'm not alone here. Most of us say, "I'm a teacher. I'm a writer. I'm a publicist. I'm a doctor ..."
It's not necessarily a bad thing. But I think it doesn't leave enough wiggle room. It makes things too black and white, cut and dry (should I go on with the cliches? That is, after all, my job, right?)
This bothers me. A lot. Because it feels a bit like we trap ourselves with our words. And if this thing we are doesn't work out, does that mean failure? It's kind of scary. Really scary, especially considering I have one of the least stable jobs in the world (ranked right up there with the engineer in charge of the Olympic symbol in Sochi's opening ceremonies).

But being a bit of a word nerd, I've found the solution! (See .. I wasn't going to leave you there on the "define me cliff.")
I think it  all boils down to a problem of noun versus verb.
*cue Rocky music*
And in this corner, we have the noun!

So I'm going to stop nouning myself.  Instead of saying, "I'm a writer." I'm going to say, "I write."  See how much lighter that is ... Wow. It feels better already.
I write.
I wife.
I run.
I cook (and nobody has ever accused me of being a chef).
I teach.

But you know what I am? I am Heidi. And I am a mom. That's my noun. That's a forever thing. And that's something I'm cool with. That's the definite and always -- being a mom. The rest, I'm going to verb it. Give me some space, okay?


  1. Noun's are static. Noun's are defined. Noun's...don't really grow.

    I prefer verb's: Active, changing and growing.

    Sounds more fun (and I know it is more healthy ;)).

    Thanks for this!


There was an error in this gadget