After dickering around writing and doing nothing with it for years, about five years ago, I decided to take writing seriously. I started attending classes and workshops to improve. I had the audacity to assume that I could put out better work than what was out there. I thought I could be like Toni Morrison and write the stories I wanted to read.
But, I loved the feeling I had drafting stories. For a creative like me, there’s no better rush than coming up with a story and bringing it to life. The stuff I wrote had memorable characters, but the plots were weak and the body of my stories skeletal. I knew I wasn’t ready for publishing.
I was writing, so I told people I was a writer. It was an identity that I was at once comfortable with yet felt like a lie. I hadn’t published anything, but I did write, daily. All it took was the follow up question to make it feel like I was fibbing to sound sophisticated or professional. Perhaps I should have said that I was studying to be a writer. Even accomplished writers are always studying to be a writer.
It was one thing to say it to some other mom on the PTSA or at a book club, it was quite another when I started going to fan cons and mingling with actual published authors, editors, and agents. I had nothing in print, so I would talk about my current project. I felt like a fifteen year old fangirl who wrote in her diary about her crushes, and the Certified Professionals would find me out. It doesn’t help when some established authors deem unpublished authors or emerging authors infantilizing names like “newbie writer”. I’m in my forties. I’m new to the industry, but not brand new to writing.
I thought once I indie published something or signed a publishing contract that I’d feel like I’d earned the right to call myself an author. After self-publishing a short story and a novella that are both selling to complete strangers, I do.
The thing is, whether you’re published or not, whether you write daily or sporadically, if you write, you’re a writer. If you paint, you’re a painter. If you sculpt, you’re a sculptor. Don’t let anyone define what that means. Monetizing your work doesn’t add any more value other than a broader audience.
Hope you’re all doing well. Happy Writing!