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I Am What I Am
by Susan Denney

I admire Popeye. He's a man who knows who he is and what he wants out of life. Even though the height of his aspirations is a date with a very homely girl, the sailor has goals. He is never afraid to say, "I am what I am." I think this famous tough guy has an important message for all writers. We have got to know who we are and what's more, we shouldn't keep it a secret.

When I first started writing, I was a little shy about saying so. Maybe I was even apologetic. "I'd like to be a writer some day." "I've sent out a few things." "I've written some things, but I haven't published anything yet." "I'm not sure I have the talent, but I'm working on it." Stuff like that was coming out of my mouth on a regular basis. Needless to say, my writing career was going nowhere. Then, thanks to the encouragement of my writer's group, I decided that I was a writer whether or not an editor liked my stuff enough to buy it.

What a difference this made in my life! Suddenly, I wasn't shy about sending out manuscripts. I'm a writer, aren't I? Isn't that what writers do? I started setting writing goals. I even started wearing tee-shirts that proclaim that I am a novelist. There is no rule that says I have to be a published novelist to wear this tee-shirt. The fact that I have written one entitles me to wear it.

I have now made it a habit to let people know that I am a writer. When people ask me what I do for a living, I explain that I work half-time teaching high school French but that I am also a freelance writer. I share my experiences with writing with anyone who will listen. When I do make a sale, I don't keep my excitement a secret.

So what does this have to do with making money? A lot. This fall, I was talking with a colleague at school and she remembered that I had said I was a writer. The conversation got very interesting after that. It seems that she is now working for a company that helps people get their teacher certification in my state. The company is branching out into continuing education and she asked me if I might be interested in writing for them. What do you think I said?

The result is that I am now writing in-service modules for them. I don't think she would have even mentioned this job to me if I had not been so open about the fact that I am a writer. I truly believe that opportunity came knocking at my door because I had put out a nameplate that said, "A freelance writer lives here."

If you are a writer looking to increase your income, I recommend that like Popeye, you share this with everyone: "I am what I am. I am a writer."

I also highly recommend eating your spinach.

© Copyright 2005, Susan Denney

Susan Denney is a freelance writer living in Pennsylvania. She has published children’s fiction and nonfiction as well as adult articles on a variety of topics. Check out her website at www.susandenney.com.

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