What makes an “-er”?

30 Aug

Most people write. But what makes someone a writer?

Many people take photographs. But what makes someone a photographer?

Surely, it’s more than just ability. I can run–I’m physically able. But no one that knows me would ever confuse me for a runner.

It’s definitely more than wishful desire. I think it would be really neat to play the piano. But I’m not at all a piano player.

I suspect that it’s more than preference or enjoyment. I like history. But it would be grossly unfair to consider me a historiographer.

So what make someone an -er?

The distinction seems to be ongoing intentionality and investment.

To be an -er requires committing to a process of growth and development, making a decision to develop a skill or a sphere of knowledge, and then actually putting in the effort to make progress. Sometimes that effort is time. Sometimes it requires other resources.

I’m currently deciding if I want to become a photographer. I really enjoy taking pictures. My wife and I finally bought our first digital SLR camera. Now we’re thinking about better lenses. Software upgrade. Wondering when to take the time to go out and shoot some pictures. And when to invest the time to analyze and process those pictures after shooting them. Do I want to be a photographer? It’s a wishful desire, an area of enjoyment, and I think I have some ability. But will I keep going and become an -er?

I’m also exploring the idea of becoming a writer. I enjoy writing. I’ve finally begun a blog. Now I’m wondering about other writing projects. How much time do I give to writing, in the midst of work, classes, …and photography? Do I want to be a writer? It’s a wishful desire, an area of enjoyment, and I think I have some ability. But will I keep going and become an -er?

I’ve got levels of intentionality and investment–the difficult part seems to keep them ongoing. Not just to start off with zeal and hopes, but to slug through and really develop. Likely, I’ll need to push the level of investment to the point of sacrifice–making some choices that will diminish other areas of life. What will those sacrifices be? And what it comes to it, will it even be appropriate to make those sacrifices? Surely, there are some boundaries that should not be crossed in the pursuit of -er.

So, I don’t yet know where this will go. Yesterday, I took pictures. Today, I’m writing. Perhaps these are each steps toward -er. I’ve only been blogging for a few days: this makes 10 posts so far. A good start perhaps. But will I keep with it? When the homework piles up and the work email lies untouched in the inbox, will I keep with it? Should I keep with it?

The journey is far from complete. But I see a goal, and have a notion about the process.

Ready or not: -er I come!


Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Life


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5 responses to “What makes an “-er”?

  1. Jack Campbell, Jr.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    For me, the difference becomes who you are wanting to see it. If you take pictures to show your family your trip to the Grand Canyon, you are taking pictures. But, if you take pictures of the Grand Canyon with the the hope that total strangers will appreciate the, you are a photographer. If you are writing with the intention that your work may someday be published, you are a writer.

    Sacrifices are very important, but what I have found is that most of the things that took away from reading and writing weren’t all that important anyway. I’m really not that big of a fan of most stuff on television, and found myself watching stuff I couldn’t care less about. Now, instead of doing that, I do things I do care about.

    The biggest thing I have sacrificed is sleep. The mind can be like a broken faucet. Once it starts leaking, you can twist that valve as hard as you want to shut it off, but it will be dripping all night long.

    • admitandexplore

      August 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts and replies. I see that “-er” is part of our identity; it is communal, but does it have to be commercial? Do I have to sell my photos or writings to be an -er? Does my audience have to be filled with faces unknown to me? I have given away dozens of photos to friends, and hundreds of pages of writing to family members. I certainly don’t think mere quantity is sufficient to deem one an -er, but do I indeed have to target the appreciations of total strangers? What if I write for those I know, love, and serve? If I can’t know my audience members as people, as individuals, do I even want to be an -er?

  2. Kate

    August 30, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    It’s all about prioritizing, as well as organizing. I am both “-er”‘s, as well as a wife and mother. I find time to photograph during the day in little snippets, and on the weekends my husband and I will take photo excursions sometimes, or sometimes it’s just me. My writing I try to do every other day—I think up posts and such during my morning runs. Photo editing I do at night, or after I get all my chores done during the day. I consider it a little treat, a reward to myself.

    As far as whether or not you want to be an _”er”, I say go with it. Some days you will be so inspired, you’ll burst; other days not so much, but just keep up with it and you’ll be the happier for it, I believe.

  3. j.young

    August 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve often thought about the same thing. Great post!


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