In 12 step recovery circles, there is an expression people use sometimes: “I’m here claiming my seat.” It speaks to paying one’s dues through surviving addiction, as well as the fact that you are a member of the community just by saying you are.
In the writing world, people refer to being “aspiring writers” or “writers”. But what marks the distinction between the two? Is it works completed? Publishing credits? Writing awards? An MFA?
In my own experience, whenever I tried to cross that imaginary line, it moved further away from me. I wanted desperately to be a “real” writer, but I continuously found myself lacking.
What I lacked the most was the ability to claim the identity for myself. I kept waiting for someone else to give it to me.
More recently, I have been watching my words. I no longer use the word “hobby” or refer to writing as an “interest”. And I have dropped the qualifier “aspiring” altogether.
I am a writer.
I am simply and powerfully a writer.
In recovery circles, by the time someone makes it meetings, they have usually been through a lot. Often, they have tried and failed to change their lives before, and they don’t know if their newfound recovery can last. But it can be a profound and life-changing event the first time they claim their seat by saying, inwardly or out loud, that they belong there.
As writers, we should take a page from their book.