One topic I’ve seen a lot lately is the discussion wrapped around calling yourself a writer. Not an aspiring writer, but a writer.
I think I understand where this advice is coming from. This is a really hard field to get into, and it’s easy to get disappointed. I am experiencing my own doubts about my work and if I should continue to write.
I do not like the process of trying to find an agent or publisher. It really puts me out of my comfort zone, and the constant rejection is disheartening.
So calling yourself a writer is supposed to be an affirmation. A way to keep yourself going when you’re thinking of quitting.
But I feel like this is somewhat disingenuous. In my experience, most people who say they want to be a writer or are aspiring to be a writer mean they want to write full time. Most are already slugging away in their basement, spare bedroom, or if they’re really lucky, home office. But what they want is for their writing to support them and their family. They don’t want to have to hold down a day job so they can make ends meet.
So I get it. If you write, you’re a writer. You are doing the act of writing, and it doesn’t matter if you ever publish your work or not, if you never earn a dime from your work. And the publishing aspect is the part I like the least. I hate spending my few writing hours a week looking up agents, rewriting queries, etc.
I suppose if you’re an actor, you act. Even if it’s only at your community theater.
A co-worker of mine wanted to be a baseball player. He made it the minor leagues but got hurt. It ended his baseball career. He still plays baseball for fun, but he never says he’s a baseball player. To him, calling himself a baseball player means something very different than playing in his weekly rec league.
I suspect the same is true for writers.So, this affirmation feels a bit…I hesitate to say it…patronizing.
J.K.Rowling posting her rejection letters, (harsh, scathing rejection letters), did far more to motivate me than all of the “you are a writer” posts combined.
I write. I write almost every day. I wrote on my birthday, Valentine’s Day and Easter. I wrote when I had a cold. I wrote when I had bronchitis. I wrote when I didn’t want to write anymore.
So I am a writer, but I’m also an aspiring writer.
I am aspiring to find an agent. Aspiring to publish my first novel. Aspiring to make my writing profitable enough that it can pay for a laptop dedicated to it. Maybe even the latest version of Word.
I may not be good enough, lucky enough, or connected enough for any of this to happen. But I’m working for it. Aspiring towards it.