There’s this weird thing with writers where we’re afraid to lay claim to the title of “Writer.”
There’s this invisible threshold we need to cross, either put there by ourselves or by what others define “a writer” as.
And a lot of times that threshold is ever-changing:
- “You’re not a writer until you finish a book.”
- “You’re not a writer until you’ve sold your first piece of writing.”
- “You’re not a writer until you make a living at it.”
I’ve believed all of those at one time or another.
I’m in high school, writing feverishly in my notebook during classes, attempting to give meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. I’m writing my heart out, attempting to build worlds and hoping someday someone will give a damn about them. Am I a writer yet?
I’m working the graveyard shift at a gas station. A job so mind-numbingly boring, I could do it in my sleep. I’m writing. A lot. I’m anonymous, though. People look at me and treat me like I’m an idiot in an idiot’s job. I’m so much more than I seem. But am I a writer yet?
I’m a bookkeeper and eventually a credit manager, a job which actually requires some skills and is quite stressful. The pay isn’t great, but it’s the best I’ve made. The only writing I’m doing is in a comic strip, which is seeing some small success on the web. I’m not writing fiction, though. And it hurts. I’ve traded the dream of writing fiction for the immediacy of accolades from a growing audience of my comics. Am I a writer yet?
I’m finally making a living writing! I’m working at a newspaper. I’m writing. A lot. Thousands of words per week, and I’m actually making a difference in my community in some small way. People compliment me, people insult me, and some even say they were moved. But I’m still not writing the fiction I yearn to write. Who has time when you’re working on a staff that is dwindling by the day? Am I a writer yet?
The paper closed down. I’m blogging now, doing some freelance stuff, and ghostwriting for others. I dream of writing books again, yet I don’t have the time. Am I a writer yet?
Together with my writing partner, Sean Platt, I co-wrote the vampire thriller Available Darkness, the post-apocalyptic serialized thriller Yesterday’s Gone, and just released a book of dark fiction short stories called Dark Crossings. We had the Number One Free Horror novel on Amazon for the first week of November. And in the past three months, we’ve sold a lot of books and received rave reviews. For the first time ever, my writing dreams seem like a reality.
Am I a writer yet?
The truth is, I’ve always been a writer. As long as I’ve kept moving the pen (and striking the keys), whether for myself or for an audience, I’ve been a writer.
Even after all this, I’m sure there some who would say I’m not yet a writer. I’ve not been signed to a book deal. I’ve not had a bestseller. I’m not a household name. Some people still view self-publishing as a “vanity thing” and demean it and take shots whenever they can, even though some of the biggest success stories in writing last year came from indie writers who are re-shaping publishing.
But I don’t write so someone else will consider me a writer.
I write for me. I write for my family. I write for you.
I am a writer. It’s what I do, whether I have an audience or not.
Am I a writer yet?
I knew I was a writer the minute I was too busy writing to consider the question.
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(Note: I’d like to thank all of you who have followed BloggerDad, despite my horrible attendance last year. I wrote more words in 2011 than ever. And yet, somehow I only wrote 26 posts here. Truth is, I had to take some time away to focus on my fiction. And I’m thrilled with where it’s at and where it’s going, as I mentioned in the post. Which means now I can come back here and write more often. I’ll be updating BloggerDad TWICE A WEEK in 2012. Thank you for your patience.)
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