Continuing our recent hug-fest...
Agent Nathan Bransford (a darn nice guy, btw) commented on the danger of writers committing themselves so fully to their art that "WRITER" becomes the watchword of who they are.
Point taken. But (you knew there was going to be one), as I responded to him in part:
Creatives own a sensibility that doesn't apply to other people. It's just different, and it doesn't matter whether you're in music or computer programming or graphic arts or writing. I'm a mom, wife, friend, writer, etc. But if you want to get at the essence of what I AM, the best word is "artist."
I used to be an interior designer. Even now, I suffer from withdrawal when I could not build rooms. I'm constantly tablescaping and restyling walls of pictures (mostly when I can't think what to write next). It's the same when I'm not able to write stories. Ask my husband. If I go a few days without writing I get crabby with a capital K. My husband knows this to be true, but I don't know that he could articulate why it is true. He doesn't own the same sensibility, the same drive to create, to share who he is via media like words and paint and rooms.
A bookkeeper may excel (no pun intended) at what s/he does, but s/he probably does not get irritable when they don't get to keep books for awhile. They might not like the work piling up, but I doubt they feel much of a physical need to put numbers in boxes. Those numbers in boxes do not tap into the essence of who they are. S/he doesn't pour out the Self into their spreadsheets. *
Artists--or my preferred term: creatives--tend to do just that. Like Dave said, every page, every painting, every room, every computer program (yeah, you heard me) has a part of its creator's soul locked in it. But rather than losing pieces of ourselves, that's how Creatives rebuild ourselves, by building things outside the self. To me, it's almost as if there's a finite amount of space inside me, and the untold stories start to crowd me out. I actually feel a bit dead inside when I go a certain amount of time without creative expression. I highly doubt I'm the only one around here who feels that way.
I can say that here. You probably get it. But most people are never going to understand that artists are not whole without the act of creating. They don't understand the compulsion, the drive. Let that go and always accept it about yourself. Shoot, embrace that about yourself. We certainly do.
* this is not to downplay or degrade bookkeepers in any way.