Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Arendelle: When do you "Let it Go" and Call Yourself a Writer?

I would be the one to kick off the A to Z Blog Challenge with a reference from Disney's Frozen, wouldn't I? But stay with me writers, because today I'm really itching to hear from you.

When Frozen hit the retail shelves exactly two weeks ago, I pretty much had the date in my calendar marked and circled three times. (I'm the mom of a toddler, so going to the movies is the difficulty equivalent of achieving a Flappy Bird score of 999. Or so I've heard... ahem... anyway.) I needed to see this movie, and once I finally did - from the comfort of my own couch with the little one all tucked in for the night - it did not disappoint.

I already have a tendency to over analyze animated films, but this one is especially layered; perfect for hosting my own internal book club conversations, one of which I will share with you today:

There is a part in the movie during which Elsa (who has spent most of her life in seclusion, hiding the fact that she has magical ice powers) is crowned Queen of Arendelle. She is forced to face the public for her coronation, and long story short, in a moment of passion she ends up revealing her powers to the horror of everyone in the kingdom. In doing so, Elsa completely freezes Arendelle, setting the kingdom into eternal winter. (Sidenote: I found the whole eternal winter thing to be especially amusing after this particular winter. Does Disney have some sort of weather monopoly which allowed them to manipulate our recent snowfall? There could be a conspiracy here....)

Where was I? Oh, right. Eternal winter. Ashamed, humiliated, and scared, Elsa flees Arendelle and heads for the north mountain where she effortlessly builds herself an impressive ice palace while belting out that iconic song, Let it Go. At some point during this song her expression changes, and there is this look of delighted relief on her face. It's as if it feels amazing to finally be free to do what she does best.

This got me thinking hard about myself as a writer. Can I be vulnerable and honest with you for a second?

For most of my life, I have felt incredibly uncomfortable calling myself a writer.

There, I said it.

I mean, I am a writer. And I have been for as long as I can remember. But actually calling myself one? No, thanks. I'll just sit in seclusion and make ice crystals - er, words - appear out of nowhere.

Perhaps I'm an overly private person? Immature? Or maybe I have suppressed identity issues? These are all working theories. But I'd be willing to bet it's not just me; that there are others who feel this way, too.

Recently, I signed my first official publishing agreement and that made me feel a little bit better about "letting it go" and calling myself a writer. Here's the funny thing, though: everything that came before signing, all the moments spent alone with the story, and all the years spent learning to fall in love with writing, those are the things that actually make me a writer. The contract is great, really great, but it's a product that comes from the core of who I am, much like Elsa's ice palace.

So my question to you, writers, is this: Are you still hiding out in Arendelle and refusing to call yourself a writer? If so, what's holding you back? If not, when did you start calling yourself a writer? What gave you the freedom to do so?

Oops. Those were several questions. But then again, I'm pretty sure this blog post was supposed to be a lot shorter, anyway. Ah, well. Tomorrow is a new day.

Please leave a comment if you'd like to join the discussion. I'd truly love to hear your thoughts. And now, without further ado, let's all burst into song, shall we?

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore...


  1. Great "A" post honey :)

    I went through a similar thing myself in 2012....and i suddenly realised that i can make a distinction. Im not published, so i could never call myself an author (until i am published) so in the meantime I'm a writer, who strives to be an "author" and thinking like that made me feel better about telling people "Im a writer" does that make sense? To me, you are a writer if you write...be it fiction, memoir, articles...its all writing :)

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge! x

  2. I guess I'm a writer because I write a blog. However, in my little corner, the question is "Am I a genealogist?" I've decided, NO. I'm comfortable calling myself a "family historian" -- that's enough for me.
    Visiting from A to Z ~

  3. I started to call myself a writer when I made the decision that I was going to write that book that I'd always wanted to write, edit it, and try to get an agent/get it published. When I assessed my time and said 'that is my writing time' and actually stuck to it. Before all that I was just a wannabe.

    Natalie (visiting from A-Z)

  4. Great distinctions, Vikki and Natalie! Thanks for stopping by, Wendy. Sounds like you've given the matter some thought in your corner :).

  5. Courtney, I LOVED this blog post! I mean meshing my two favorite subjects: Disney movies and writing. AWESOME! Personally, I started calling myself a writer when I made the decision to write my book. No more excuses and I made a commitment to it. I felt different too, more like a writer when I finished my first draft of PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT. :-) Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings! :-)

  6. Hi Courtney,

    Great post. I always wanted to write, but I was such a private person and so afraid of criticism that most of what I wrote ended up in a personal file or in the trash can. A year or so ago I wrote an article called "When I Knew I Wanted to Be a Writer." This was the tag line: I guess I knew I wanted to be a writer, or had become one, when the need broke through the fear - when the need to put thoughts into words became greater than the fear of rejection or criticism - when new ideas bubbled up from that writer place inside and wouldn’t let me sleep until I let it flow through the keyboard.

    Looking forward to "B."


  7. I have thought of myself as a story teller...I have had short stories published, but never attempted a book. That thought fills me with angst! However, as I have read through these comments...if a person writes, they are a writer...so, I am a writer and have been one for most of my life.

  8. Wow that is a hard question. I love your post :) And I don't outwardly say that I am a writer but I do say that I write. i guess it's the same thing. So yes I am a writer and have been for most of my life.

  9. Excellent discussion and beautiful words! Thanks, all. :)

  10. Too funny on the going to the movies comment. I am also the mom of toddlers, and I haven't been to the cinema since before I was expecting--when, ironically, the last movie I saw was What to Expect When You're Expecting. They should have said that you should expect this to be the LAST movie you'll see for awhile. ;)

    Love the post...I really need to see FROZEN!

    1. That was the last movie I saw, too!!! We must have kids around the same age (21 months here). Been meaning to keep a running list of movies/tv series to catch up on in about 20 years. Maybe we could collaborate ;).