I have an artist friend who hasn’t been able to finish her website because of all the little decisions that have to be made: colours, text, logo, fonts, message... I understand. Take the business cards I’m trying to finalize for marketing my next book. A few words, a couple of colours, three weeks later and the mock-up still isn’t at the printers because of one niggling question. What do I want to call myself? A writer or an author?
There’s a huge debate in the writing world about what each of these words means and whether an author is really a writer or just a published personality. Or whether a writer really cares about being published and marketing their work. I confess, I don’t know a writer who doesn’t want a readership. Being published by other people is often a good check that the writing has integrity. Yet there’s no hard and fast on this as anyone in the publishing business will tell you.
That debate aside, neither author nor writer really expresses all of who I am. I have had many lives. I brainstormed over email one night with another writer friend: so what if I called myself a word witcher? She loved it. Yes, it expresses so many layers of who you are, your rural roots, it makes one think of water witching, spirituality and women’s work.
I like the idea of word witching, maybe because one of my stories in this collection is about a water witcher (so this is really some clever marketing ploy), but also, like witchers of water, one has to listen to language’s internal rhythms, spirits and intuitions to find the thread of the story or the vein of a poem. It’s often an irrational process, even dream-like and when one finds the mother lode, it is like a minor miracle.
So what did I decide? Writer or author or word witcher? No one role can describe all of who I am. I think that’s true for most of us. My name is probably the best descriptor there is and so I’ve decided that that’s enough.