‘I’m a novelist. I’m a novelist. I’m a novelist.’ I’m writing fifty lines of this each morning in an attempt to train myself to be able to answer the question “what do you do?” It doesn’t come naturally. I tend to get tongue-tied and struggle to respond. Sometimes I manage to say I’m a business owner and a writer, but that’s not how I want to position myself. I want to shed my old skin and present myself anew to the world.
Anyway, to say I’m a writer is like saying I’m an eater or a breather. Everyone writes. The truthful answer is that I doodle and slouch. I doodle in the morning and slouch in the afternoon. Maybe that’s my response – I’m a doodler and a sloucher. I’ve just looked up doodler, only to find the urban dictionary defines a doodler as someone who has an acute desire to draw penises. Scratch that: I am not a doodler. I do not – I want to be absolutely clear on this – have an acute desire to draw penises. I’m a novelist. I’m a novelist. I’m a novelist.
A reason I struggle with claiming the new identity I desire is that I don’t believe I deserve it. I’ve had one novel published, but that might be nothing more a flash in the pan. I wouldn’t describe myself as a footballer on the strength of kicking a ball in the park. I would only claim to be a footballer if I was paid to kick a ball. Having become familiar with the economics of writing I now realise I’m as likely to make money from my novels as I am from professional football. Perhaps this means I’m a hobbyist whose hobby happens to be writing? I don’t want to be a hobbyist. I want to be a novelist.