How soon is now?
In the past, when I served on admissions committees, I often wondered why folks felt so compelled to pinpoint the exact moment when they decided to become writers, and to share that information in the statement of purpose. As in, "From the moment my mother began having contractions, which ended up being Braxton-Hicks and therefore nonproductive, I have wanted to become a writer," or, "Ever since I first learned which end of a pencil to sharpen, I have been a slave to the written word."
Is that the way it's supposed to be? Because I sure didn't aspire to be a poet when I was two years old and standing on the back porch eating a piece of bologna. Sometimes I wish it had crossed my mind when I was in high school, or junior high, but I don't think I really contemplated the future back then. I wrote poems, and they were awful. I wrote short stories that weren't quite as awful. Once in a while I wrote an okay poem. But it was much later that I decided to become a writer and stick with it. I'm talking late in grad school. There was always that tempting possibility of administration, or professional goat herding.
Do writers need to decide that they are writers in order to be good writers?
Is poetry better when the poet has self-identified as a poet, and not as a technical writer who moonlights as a barista, and so on?
Have you decided to be a writer yet? And did it change you?