I love this phrase. In my life I have taken more than two hundred dance classes, but I would never call myself a dancer. I cooked at restaurants for two years, but I am not a chef. I have acted professionally in more than a dozen national commercials, on eight different television shows, in several films and four dozen stage plays, but I don’t refer to myself as an actor. So what defines us? In an acting class I took in LA, led by the brilliant actor Jeff Goldblum, he once said it takes 20 years to build a true mastery as an actor. I believe that applies to any discipline. Twenty years of constant study. Twenty years as a full time occupation, not as a hobbyist.
Devotion is what defines you. What gets you out of bed in the morning is what defines you. What you do, not what you think, is what defines you.
My good friend and co-author Angelica Harris, had written and published two books when I met her five years ago, but she was still not a writer. About two years into our work together she started rearranging her life around her third book. She completely restructured so that her writing became a priority. That was the day she became a writer. Now she spends the majority of her time writing and speaking about her books, coaching other writers, and attending events important to her fantasy genre (renaissance fairs are huge for her!).
Many people do many things in life. We all dabble here and there. If you want to truly be recognized in a specific discipline, have enough respect for that craft to only call yourself a member if you have truly devoted your life to the consistent practice of mastering it.