Today I got an email from an interlibrary loan technician at a university library. Someone had requested an article I wrote in 1991, but the actual text of the article seemed to be hard to find, although the article has been cited in bibliographies. Hoping that I would have a copy, the library employee wrote to me.
Instantly I could picture the clipping in my mind's eye. I knew I had it, but where, exactly? In recent years I have been filing my published articles and short stories in presentation binders available from office supply stores. They consist of clear plastic envelopes bound together. I slip the items in as they get published and they're in sequence. Back in 1991, though, I didn't file too carefully. I was awfully busy back then, with many irons in the fire, and tended to throw published items into file folders or stick them in scrapbooks without putting them in chronological order.
I spent an hour going through dusty boxes and scrapbooks, and found the article. I will send a copy by snail mail as Roger and I don't have a fax.
While searching for the article, I began to feel proud of what I have accomplished. I found poems, articles and stories that I had almost forgotten. If I ever want to publish another short story collection or poetry chapbook I have plenty of published material to consider. I remembered the thrill of seeing my work in print and the pleasure of being paid for some of it.
A couple of months ago, in a conversation with a new acquaintance, I mentioned that I am a writer. "It's nice that you have a hobby, " he said. "My mum keeps a journal." I wasn't thrilled to be categorized with someone for whom writing is scribbling random thoughts in a notebook, so I changed the subject, feeling very undervalued. "You work for years at your "craft and sullen art" and get no respect," I grumbled to myself.
Digging through my files to find the article tonight reminded me that I am a "real" writer, in the sense of a published, dedicated writer with a long resume. I've been one for many years. I should sort through my clippings more often.