Are you a writer?

"The Written Word," Paloetic Photography, Creative Commons
Are you a writer, teacher, or both?

And which comes first?

"I used to consider myself a teacher who writes, now I'm a writer who teaches," says Ann Staley, who has taught for 40 years, in high schools, community colleges, universities, prisons, creative retreats, and more.

A prolific poet, she'd written hundreds of poems but didn't consider herself a writer until her second book was published, at age 68. “I do feel that I am a writer,” she said recently. “It really took the second book for me to feel that way.”

I met Ann-the-teacher years ago at a writing workshop celebrating the poetry of William Stafford. A good teacher leaves you wanting more, so I took her week-long writing workshop at Menucha - Creative Arts Community, and it was one of the best workshops I've attended.

And so I was surprised to learn that she doubted her place as a writer. Ann was a great teacher, so, of course, I saw her as a writer too.

Sometimes it seems we carry so many uncertainties, leaving us to wonder where writer ranks in our lives. We are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, givers, takers, teachers . . . But in the clamor is there time and space to be a writer first?