Louhcheut Mahgeuk: to reveal one's secret or fault (lit. to expose Mah's feet)

The queen of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1328-1399) was surnamed Mah. Once, she was riding by on her sedan chair when a gust of wind blew aside the carriage's curtain. Everyone on the street could see that her feet were not bound, a daring break in the typical foot binding tradition for rich women.


Sometimes I'm afraid of exposing my own faults. When confronted with a blank line for my occupation on a  doctor's form a couple of days ago, I balked.  If I wrote down "writer," what would that mean? How would I then be perceived by others? It used to be easy to place myself in a nice career slot. The words, "geriatric social worker," are very specific and require a certain amount of education and specialization. Nowadays, in the writing industry, how do I distinguish myself in the vast landscape of burgeoning artists?

Recently, I published my flash fiction in IdeaGems Magazine (pg. 15 of the winter issue slideshow). Before this happy occasion, I had edited some newsletters and published minor things, but I assumed I'd really think of myself as a writer when one of my short stories got into print. Now, it seems like I want just one step more: I'll feel comfortable calling myself a writer when I get a longer story published, or a manuscript accepted, or... The list goes on.

I'm not sure if it's because of the new slew of rejections I've been receiving in the mail, but I still hesitate to call myself a writer on official forms and when talking to people. Does anybody else struggle with this? And when was that magical mark when you embraced the writer's identity? 

Comments (6)

On January 14, 2013 at 6:06 PM , Sarah Negovetich said...

I was editing a manuscript in the waiting room of my daughter's gymnastics class a few weeks ago. Another mom asked me if I was a student and I answered, "No, I'm a writer" before I could stop myself. At first, I was shocked I had said it out loud, but then I was darn proud of myself. If we write, and we are serious about it, then we are writers.

 
On January 14, 2013 at 7:04 PM , Jennifer Chow said...

That's great, Sarah! I'm glad your mind answered "writer" on autopilot.

 
On January 20, 2013 at 11:56 AM , elissafield said...

Sarah, that's a great answer. Jennifer, thanks for this great post. I first called myself a writer (aloud to others) after I'd finished a novel draft -- but it really wasn't about that chunk of paper, it was what Sarah was saying. Getting the draft done came from the time I dedicated to it, along with time I spent perfecting craft or connecting with other pros.

 
On January 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM , Jennifer Chow said...

Hi Elissa,
Thanks for dropping by! So it sounds like it's more about the attitude and dedication to the writing path.
Thanks for all the encouragement!

 
On January 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM , Lauri Meyers said...

Congratulations on your fiction getting published! You can say your a writer when you write with intention. How about that new definition?

 
On January 23, 2013 at 7:31 PM , Jennifer Chow said...

Ooh, I like that: "Write with intention." Nice.