I've always been a writer, but it took me a long time to call myself a writer. Writers seemed to be in an exclusive club, and I couldn't just crash the party and say, "Hey guys! I'm a writer, too." I didn't think the real writers would want me in their club. I might be a bad representative of the craft, and they might not want me to sully their reputation.
Anne Lamott influenced me in her fabulous book Bird by Bird:
"I encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."
So now that I am a writer I do the writer things. I'm always working. I carry notebooks. No matter where I go, what I hear or read, or think it could become material.
Lamott's father was a writer, and she said, "Sometimes he traveled. He could go anyplace he wanted with a sense of purpose. One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around."
It also gives you a reason to read this book!