Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Am I retired or am I a writer?

I quit my job in 1999 to write full time. That was 11 years ago. I struggled with saying I was a writer because I make very little money and our society defines success in those terms. So I began saying I was retired and writing my memoir.

But my memoir was published one year ago. It's an attitude thing. If I say to myself, I am a writer, than when I don't write, I feel awful. If I say I'm retired, then if I don't write, it doesn't matter, because by definition, retired means you don't have to work anymore.

That doesn't feel good to me. I want to be productive. These are the best years of my life. I am healthy, injury free, seem to have physical energy I haven't had before since losing all the weight.

I need a paradigm shift. Maybe it's not about what I am, but who I am. Because really, I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister-in-law, a dancer, a singer, and I write. I don't do anything for a living anymore, but I write because I have things inside me that seem to want to express themselves. Whether anyone else ever sees those things -- well, I can't let that stop me from self-expressing. It took me so many years to find my Self, I can't lose it now by not giving that Self a forum.

So I guess I am both--retired and a writer. But the next time someone asks me what I do, I'm going to say, I'm living my life trying to be the best Karen I can possibly be.



Karen Gowen said...

I wrote a post on my blog today about women's voices. Although I havent'yet read your book, yours is a voice that needs to be heard. I for one hope you will continue to write. And to call yourself a writer. Better yet, an author.

Cyndi said...

This is such a great post Karen! We are not solely defined by our professions, marital status, or any of our roles in life. We all have many roles that can and do frequently change. Just because some people feel more comfortable when they are able to fit us into one label or another does not mean that is who we are in our entirety. I love thinking up new and interesting ways to respond to the question, "What do you do?".

Ann said...

I still don't know who I am. I say a writer with a big red embarrassed face, because I am unpublished. I would love to be at that place where being Ann is enough. You are a writer; you write and have finished something. Well done you.

Mason Canyon said...

I'd say you're an author, who is currently working on another book. I think we all have questions about what our "title" is to other people sometimes.

Thoughts in Progress

Elspeth Antonelli said...

It's the question everyone gets asks when they meet someone new: "What do you do?" I think your answer is excellent.

Karen Walker said...

Karen, thank you so much for these kind words. I checked out your blog today and found a kindred spirit. Okay, I'm an author!!!!

Cyndi, would love to hear some of those creative responses.

Ann, a writer is someone who writes. You are writing...ergo, you are a writer.

Mason, yes, I guess I am an author, although I am still uncomfortable with the labels we assign people.

Elspeth, thanks. I'm going to work on remembering that response whenever I'm asked that question.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Elspeth, I like your answer :)

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I struggle with this same dilemma – I like your response, “I'm living my life trying to be the best Karen I can possibly be.” I may have to borrow that, changing the name, of course:)

Karen Walker said...

Jane, go ahead and borrow if it works for you.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

You're a writer! But I don't blame you if you don't say it. I have that problem, too!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Julie Lomoe said...

Karen, you have every right to identify yourself as a writer even if you're not currently immersed in a big project. I always identify myself as a mystery writer.

BTW, I read your book - it's a real page-turner, very moving. It had the momentum that kept me reading through to the end as I would a good novel. Congratulations

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

Karen Walker said...

Elizabeth, thanks for sharing that it's difficult for you as well, because I see you as a very successful writer.

Julie, thanks for the kind words about my memoir. Your two books are next on my to-read stack.


Anonymous said...

Today I was asked by an acquaintance, "What do you do?" I said "I am a full-time mommy." She said "Oh? How old is your little one?" "Thirteen," I said. There was an awkward silence. When were we mommies supposed to go back to work? I didn't get the memo. I love my current "career." It's the best job I've ever had, and make no mistake, it IS a job, if done right. When the inspiritaion strikes, Karen, WRITE! And you can say you are a writer because you've written and published a very good book.


Sally said...

probably it really doesn't matter what you say you are to Anyone Else It's what you say you are to yourself Seems like lots of "writing" is done in the quiet spaces we give ourselves- or found unexpectedly in the interactions with others- sitting down with pen in hand or fingers on keys is just the icing
I'm midway through your book. I say just keep on writing. It gives me alot to think about

Karen Walker said...

Simona, you are so right. Being a mommy is a full-time, crucial job. Thought I'd seen the end of the so-called mommy wars. Glad you are fulfilled in what you are doing.

Sally, it still brings tears to my eyes when someone tells me they are reading my book and getting something out of it. Thanks for the encouragement.


Patricia Stoltey said...

If you write, you're a writer. You wrote and published a memoir. Own it and love it. You're a writer even if you don't complete your other projects for a while. When the time is right, you'll write.

Glynis said...

You are a writer, you entertain with your words!

Enjoy your life and live it well. I enjoyed my visit.