Monday, December 24, 2007

Writers Define Themselves

Last Friday I wrote a post called “What Defines a Writer.” A comment by Terry Heath caused me to think a little more on that subject and to come to a clearer conclusion on what truly defines a writer.

The whole subject came up because I, and probably you as well, am often asked what I do. For me, there are multiple answers. I’m a mother, a homemaker, a freelance editor, a book consultant, Partner and Marketing Director for Legends In Our Own Minds®, blogger, volunteer and, of course, a writer. The first seven replies don’t elicit much of a response or even interest. But if I say “writer” then the other person perks up. They invariably ask a follow-up question like, “Really? What do you write? Would I have read your books?”

If any of you have said you were a writer, you’ve probably gotten this question. It doesn’t matter whether you’re unpublished or published in magazines, anthologies, newspapers or online. If you say, “I write feature articles,” you’ll get a disappointed look. If you say, “I write technical articles,” their eyes glaze over. If you say, “I’m unpublished,” you’ll get a look of “What the hell? You’re not a writer.” First of all, they want to know that you’re a book writer. Second, they want to know they can go to their local Barnes & Noble or nearby store and find your book. Having your book available on your website and Amazon doesn’t cut it. Your book has to have an established bookstore’s seal of approval.

A lot of times, someone who’s asked that question won’t even answer with “I’m a writer.” They’ll give some other answer. Just to avoid that follow-up question. That look.

But what I’ve decided is that writers don’t need affirmation from others to call themselves writers. As Terry said, “A writer writes.” The title of “writer” isn’t something another person bestows on you. And it’s not something they can take away with a disapproving look. If you decide you’re a writer, then you give the title to yourself, whether you write books, screenplays, articles, essays, poetry, short stories, or greeting cards, published or not.

Good chance you’ll still have to endure the responses you get when others find out you’re not published in book form – or possibly worse, you are but your books are now out of print. But no matter what looks you get, those looks can’t take away what you are. Only you can decide you’re a writer. Only you can decide you’re not. It’s true that writers write. Writers also believe … in themselves.

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