Friday, September 18, 2009

Blog Chain - Who and What Are You?

Blog Chain time again, and this time, it's my turn to start things. I was pretty clueless about what I'd ask for this round, but then our fabulous Elana and I got into a fascinating discussion the other day and I am really curious as to what other people think about this subject.

I'll save you the long backstory, but basically we were discussing my MC and her character and personality traits and we started discussing whether or not who you are determines what you do, or if you do what you do because of who you are.

So, my dear Blog Chainers (and anyone else who may read this post), what do you think:

Do you choose WHAT you do because of WHO you are? Or is who you are determined by what you do?

To say it a few more ways...Do the things you do determine who you are? Or do you do the things you do BECAUSE of who you are? Specifically as writers, do you write because of who you are, or did you become who you are because you write, or because you chose to become a writer?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Ha! Just kidding.

Honestly, I think there is a lot of overlap here. Elana and I had different takes on this. She used the example of her being a teacher. She is always a teacher, in all situations through out her life. She always finds herself teaching, and acting like a teacher, and treating others the way a teacher would. Being a teacher is who she is.

But she is working toward being a writer because it is who she wants to become. She believes that the choices we make help define who we are. I agree with that. I agree that in the quest to become writers, we pick up new personality or character traits along the way. For me specifically, I've become a little more patient (in some areas) :D I'm more outgoing, a little more confident in myself, that sort of stuff.

However, I'm more of a mind that I am who I am and always have been. Elana may be a teacher, she may see the world as a teacher, she may always be teaching, she may have always been a teacher from the day she was born, but the actual act of teaching is something she does BECAUSE of who she is. In my opinion. I think she would still think like a teacher and always be teaching in any profession she had chosen.

For me, I think being a writer may add to who I am, it may change me from being impatient introvert to a patient extrovert (hey, anything's possible!) but it doesn't change the basic ME. That while I might develop new personality traits over time, my basic self, the person I was born being...WHO I am...doesn't change. Who I am helps determine what I do. Not the other way around.

I am sort of a loner. I have an beyond overactive imagination. I love to read, get sucked into other worlds. I like to learn. I'm creative. I'm passionate. All of these things have been a part of who I am since the day I was born. I think I've been a writer since the day I was born. It's who I am. It's how I see the world. It's how I interact with people and with my environment. I AM a writer. I did not become who I am because I write. The actual act of writing is something I do BECAUSE of who I am.

If I had chosen to be a teacher (almost did and still might) or an archaeologist (my first degree is in history) or whatever else I may have chosen, I still would have seen the world and reacted to the world the way I always have, the way a writer does. I just wouldn't have written any of it down :D Or I would have found some other way to express it.

I may love other things, like music. I play piano (and was good at it once upon a time). I've played several other instruments in my life and was good at them too. I recently bought a violin and am learning to play. I would love to be a violinist, and in my quest to become a violinist, I may pick up more personality traits, it may change me in some ways, but it will never change WHO I AM. The basic core of ME.

And no, I do not think this is entirely black and white. As with everything else in the world, there is a gray, overlapping area. But for me, I think you do what you do because of who you are. You do not become who you are because of what you do.

I write and play music and cross-stitch and scrapbook and read because of the type of person I am. They do not make me into the type of person I am.

Yes, people's experiences and actions can change them. In rare cases, people can change their entire personalities and become totally different people. But I think for most of us, there is a basic core of YOU that never changes. A uniqueness you are born with that makes you YOU no matter what you may do over the course of your life.

I am writer because of who I am. I did not become who I am because I write.

Shaun is up next, so head over to his blog to get his thoughts on the subject :D


Christine Fonseca said...

OOHHH...Nice topic! Tough topic! Now I need to stew.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

This is going to be quite a personal topic! In some ways it's timely for me, as I was transferred to a new job a few months ago and have been thinking about this idea since then.

Oh, and the egg definitely came first.

Cole Gibsen said...

I agree with Christine. Tough topic! But a good one that you answered fantastically :)

Regina Quentin said...

Great topic. I have to think about this one now. Off the top of my head I think that what I do comes out as an expression of who I am and what God wants to do through me.

Eric said...

Great topic. I won't clue you in on my answer yet, but I like yours. This should be truly interesting to see everyone's take on the subject.

Jamie D. said...

That's a serious brain-twister. Wow.

I do things based on who I am at my core. The things that I do don't define me. My day job represents a small part of who I am, but only in the sense that it's creative. I'm actually constantly fighting the fact that most people *do* tend to define people by what they do to make money. It irks me every time, because *what* I do isn't *who* I am.

At my core, I am a creative introvert, a deep thinker, a dreamer. I think that predisposes me to certain jobs, hobbies, and past times. If I were someone different, I'd be drawn to other things. Or that's what I think, anyway. :-)

Diana Paz said...

Wow, that's tough and thanks for lots to think about. Brilliantly answered :)

L. T. Host said...

Thinking about this kind of stuff always makes my head hurt... this and time/ destiny paradoxes.

Elana Johnson said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! Or should I say MWA, HA HA HA! And dude, I'm so glad that I don't have to answer. I can't wait to see what other people think, though. Will be following closely...

Danni said...

What a cool topic, and you have an amazing blog!

Unknown said...

Tough topic. In many ways, I do think experience can shape your personality, but your personality had to already include those tendencies for the experiences to have a lasting, profound effect.

Michelle McLean said...

Thanks for the comments!

Jamie - "the things that I do don't define me" -exactly!! Love it :D

Danni - thanks! And thanks for following :)

Sarah - Brilliant statement!

I can't wait to see what everyone else has to say! This topic just fascinated me when the subject arose.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Nice post! Miss you.

Amanda Bonilla said...

GREAT topic Michelle! This a topic with a lot of depth and can go so many ways. I can't wait to write about this!

* said...

Insightful stuff here. Deep, thinking stuff. Mmmm. I choose to write because writing for me is like chocolate, it's hard to stop at just one piece.

Jill said...

Oooh, hello teacher (maybe), archeologist (someday)... and so on.

Many of the writers I know have done a lot of very different things (because deep down inside they are writers?). The same holds true for me.

I have two diplomas in sciences that I never used (never worked in in any significant way). I was a bartender for about a million years. I have a history degree. I was a travel agent, a bank teller. For the last several years I have been a college professor. I taught ESL in Mexico.

A bit crazy, definitely wayyyy too many years in school and not enough years on the 'corporate ladder' (start saving for your retirement!!!)

BUt not really all that different from other writers I have met.

Maybe the signifcant thing is that underneath it all, all along, I have been and am a writer. The other things were just filler, paycehques... or research! In some way or another, the peripatetic existence has worked its wayinto my writing :)

Cheers, Jill

Teri said...

Interesting topic. I have to say I do things the way I do because of who I am. I won't way it is always portrayed in terms of occupation, but it is in the activities I choose. I would shudder to think that I'm defined as an educational administrator! :)

B.J. Anderson said...

Wonderful topic! Can't wait for my turn. :D And I love your take on it. I'm a bit of a loner myself!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Wow, really tough topic - but an interesting one too! I can't wait to hear what everyone has to say!

Rebecca Knight said...

Fascinating stuff! I love reading everyone's responses in the comments already, so this is going to be an interesting chain ;).

Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

Deep thoughts . . .by Michelle McLean. :-)

Sorry. I couldn't help myself.

This is going to require a lot of thought before I can write my response. Good job on the topic.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

This was a really great topic. And I like your answer too.