Anna Koop

March 19, 2011

The Mythical Writer

Filed under: Personal

I have had impossibly high standards for writing, and I’m only just starting to realize this.

I love writing and have loved it for as long as I could do it. Yet for most of my years I would only count certain kinds of writing as Writing, the kind of Writing that makes you a Writer. Letters didn’t count. Journals definitely didn’t count, or only when they were written for some future grandchild to discover and use to explore a lost yesteryear. Notes on things I was learning didn’t count. When the internet came around, Usenet and then forum posts didn’t count. School assignments—certainly not. None of these were Writing. Doing these things with pleasure did not make me a writer, let alone a Writer.

Things I thought would count: poems, although I had an obligation not to inflict more bad poetry on the world. Stories, especially (only?) the eventually publishable kind—and these would require good ideas and excellent writing and well-formed thought and perfection in many other ways. Articles if they were written for publication—requiring good ideas and thorough research and reams of proposals. Blogging if you were very serious about it, building up a readership and posting daily with carefully edited and thoughtful articles on a specific topic—and what did I know? And did I want the pressure?

In grad school, I started to think more seriously about non-fiction writing as Writing, and that academic papers could maybe count, although a textbook would clearly be better. And anyway, I wasn’t a real paper-writer until I was first author and really owned the topic. And paper-writing isn’t real writing, because have you read the average academic paper? Clearly not written by a wordsmith. An academic paper is about getting the ideas and information across, not Writing. Thinking of it as Writing would just mean I was wasting time and energy that should be spent on Communication.

My Master’s thesis? Not real writing, because everybody has to do it.

So in spite of regularly spending a huge portion of my free (and work) time writing, I steadfastly refused to see it as Writing. This meant I must be either self-destructive or deluded—how could I think of myself as a lover of writing and call myself a writer when I didn’t write?

In retrospect, it’s pretty embarrassing that it’s only in the last year I’ve realized that I’ve been writing all along. It has always snuck in there one way or another.

So, Writer/writer and “real” writing be damned, the important thing is that I am writing. A lot. And I adore it.


  1. If more people used your elevated description of Writing then those academic papers might not be so painful to read. I look forward to you taking over the world.

    Comment by Nicole — March 20, 2011 @ 3:34 am

  2. Although little would get written then . . . I’m working on a happy compromise. I hope.

    Comment by admin — March 21, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

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