“You changed your major!?”
“Yeah..its not a huge deal or anything.”
“Can you keep your job at the Writing Center?”
I dunno…can I?
Summer of 2000 and some year. I spend a couple of days sitting in the stuffy loft of my suburban track home, typing on a keyboard that is slightly too big for my grade-schooler sausage fingers. The product of those summer days was the first story I ever wrote. I called it a “comic book” because it had one clip art image attached at the end. It told the story of a group of three friends: me, the childhood best friend I left behind when my family left rural Maryland, and his brother. Together we formed a superhero team called “The Weekend Warriors” (A name I stole from my favorite tshirt) who fought against the oppressive regime of school. It was awesome. There were dragons.
I always considered that to be my first ever piece of writing. Maybe not mature writing, but it was the first time I sat down and pressed keys on a keyboard until I stopped. I showed that silly story to everyone, and it is one of my greatest failings that I lost the printed out version to water damage, and that the Word document was lost when the computer I wrote it on gave up the ghost.
I’ve certainly written better stories since then, I’ve even presented one at a conference, but I’ve never had as much fun writing as I did that first time. I’ve written for class. I’ve written to impress girls. I’ve written because I’ve had to. I can’t remember the last time I wrote just for fun.
And so I did what many of those closest to me though impossible. I gave up on being an English Major.
The first thought I had after deciding to change from being an English Major to being a Computer Science Major was:
“Am I still a writer?”
Hi, my name is Patrick, and I am a writer.
In one way or another, this is how I introduced myself for as long as I can remember. When you are in college, your major defines you. For better or for worse. I was Patrick the English major. I was going to be a novelist, despite the objections of family. No I was not going to be a teacher.
Who am I without that?
UCWbL Core Belief Number 1: Anyone who writes anything is a writer.
Every year, all the employees of the University Center for Writing-based Learning get together in the same place for All-Staff Orientation, and each year there is one activity or another that uses our Core Beliefs. I will be honest, I never really thought about those core beliefs other than at that orientation. But now I found one of them coming back to comfort me.
There is not one thing that defines being a writer. You don’t lose your Writer Certification if you leave an English program. The only thing intrinsic to being a writer is getting the work of writing done. Writing is writing, whether you are writing an essay, a short story, a tweet, a computer program, or even a blog post. As long as you are putting words down, you are writing, and that means that you are a writer.
You are a writer when you write anything.
I am a writer.