One of my favorite places to write is on airplanes. I love sitting next to a window, getting out my laptop, praying that the chair in front of me doesn’t recline, and typing away happily while sipping on my complimentary beverage. Maybe it’s the cabin pressure, or a lack of oxygen, or the aforementioned complimentary beverage, but for some reason, I come up with especially good stuff on airplanes.
On one such occasion (several years ago), I was intently focused on my task and my beverage, when my overly talkative seatmate interrupted me to ask me a question (don’t you just love that). This particular woman was obviously intrigued by the rapid fire typing going on in the seat next to her (when I get going, I average around 90 wpm…which probably explains my high word counts). The woman leaned over and asked, “Are you a writer?”
The question was innocent enough. However, you might be surprised at my response: “Oh no, I’m not a writer.” Providing ample evidence to the contrary, I proceeded to continue typing at the speed of light, attempting to ignore her.
I was operating under the assumption that in order to be a writer, first of all, you had to be very cool. I, for one, hadn’t yet attained coolness; therefore, I wasn’t a writer. Next, in my strange little world, to be a writer, you had to earn a living by selling your words. I was a student at the time and making zero money at anything, except maybe picking berries during summer break.
To this day, I struggle with the label “writer.” You’ll find me hard pressed to identify myself as a writer. Earlier this week, I was explaining to someone what I am doing with my life these days, now that I’m on summer break, and I caught myself stumbling over the words: “I’m…um…just…um…writing…ur…yeah.” It was painful.
Maybe when I’m cool enough, I’ll own up to it. Until then, be prepared for some pretty awkward introductions: “Meet my friend Amy—don’t ask her what she does because she hasn’t convinced herself about it yet.”