On Being a “Writer”

For years, writing was my secret life. I wrote behind closed doors, in notebooks that I shoved in the bottom drawer of my desk or under stacks of library books. Ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I would say, vaguely, “Something in editing or publishing. Maybe magazines.”

Today, when the death of print has been cried from the rooftops for the last several years, the idea that “magazines” seemed like a promising career choice is rather ironic. But these were the roaring nineties, and I was a teenager. Anything seemed possible. And I was convinced that “something in magazines” would get fewer raised eyebrows than saying “I want to be a writer.”

I took my first hesitant steps toward being a “real” writer in my first year of University. I saw a call for submissions to the inaugural issue of juice, a student creative writing journal, and I decided to take the plunge. My piece was accepted, and deep in my heart I was finally a writer. But I still didn’t tell people that was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I took a huge leap forward when I got hired almost three years ago at a marketing communications firm for a position with a decidedly vague corporate title that boiled down to “writer.”

It’s not exciting writing. In fact, some days it’s just plain boring. But every day, I get to come into work and put words together. Sometimes I even manage to slip a pun, an allusion, even (gasp!) a joke among the corporate buzz words.

In the evenings I go home and scribble away at scenes that might become short stories and memories that might become creative nonfiction. Some of those bits and bobs end up at my Writers’ Circle, where I take equal pleasure in seeing what my colleagues have cooked up for me to read and critique.

These days, I call myself a writer. Without (too much) hesitation, without (too many) explanations.

I found my way to Writers’ Circles – and the Writers’ Collective – through my friend Cynara, a former Programming Coordinator. I’ve stayed with the Collective because I admire its commitment to writers of all stripes, but especially new and emerging writers. Writers like me, who are still getting comfortable calling themselves writers in public, for all the world to hear.

Hilary Friesen

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3 Responses to “On Being a “Writer””

  1. Anne Stewart says:

    Nice article! Hey, if someone asked me who you were, I’d say, “A writer friend of mine.”

  2. gabriele goldstone says:

    The Collective is such a un-intimidating place and the writing circles are democracy in action. Everyone has a voice. Good piece, Hilary.

    I love this brilliant new website.

  3. rick sparling says:

    I started writing just this year. Mainly short 500 word columns for a local
    tabloid and have 19 articles published to date. This is a very tough business
    and I didn’t realize that I would have so many insecurities! If, for one reason or another, my article does not appear in the paper I always feel it wasn’t good enough. I have to realize that there are other writers also submitting articles,
    so I can’t be published every week. I always flip to “my page” first when the paper arrives at the door to see if I am in it. Notice I refer to it as “MY PAGE”?

    I am trying to build some sort of portfolio so I can get more serious about writing when I retire. I am 65 next month and will likely retire within a couple of years.

    I did enter a non fiction contest through The Writer’s Collective in Winnipeg,
    Manitoba, Canada and I’m planning on becoming a member this coming year.
    Most of my articles to date are true things that have happened in every day life, like trips to the dentist, doctor, barber, things that happened in the yard or garden, etc., etc.

    Anyone who may have comments or words of advice or encouragement,
    please feel free to do so.

    I’ll add that it does make me feel good when someone in the stores I go to in the area recognizes me from my picture in my articles and comments that they liked my story. I also get brought back down to earth when someone says, “Hey you’re the guy that writes those goofy stories in the newspaper!”