Author Topic: At what point do you call yourself a writer?  (Read 3956 times)

Offline deborahowen

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At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« on: August 14, 2011, 04:51:25 AM »
I did a blog on this once and folks had strong thoughts on it.

A writer is one who writes - so... is a new unpublished writer a writer?
Or do you think a person can be called a writer when he/she has been
published in a newspaper?
Or is that not good enough? Does it require writing a book and selling it the traditional way?
What about writing a book and self-pubbling? Is that person "a writer"?

In your mind, where is that division? Personally, I vote for the first one. I don't
believe a writer has to be published anywhere to call himself/herself a writer.
Many years ago one of my lessons told me to say aloud, "I am a writer," three
times every day for a week. That little exercise did a lot to make me believe in
myself.

How do you cast your vote?
Deborah Owen :)
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2011, 05:11:55 AM »
Once you realise it's a part of you.  Not just what you do for a living or even a hobby, but an essential part part of what makes you tick.

Up until then you're just a person who writes, in much the same way as you can be a person who drives a car, or works in a bakery.  But once you instinctively identify yourself as a Writer, Driver, Baker, or whatever your 'thing' is, with an implied capital, then you've arrived.

I've never heard anyone describing themselves as an Ex-Writer.  I've heard people say "I don't write much these days", or "I've not written for ages."   But you'll often hear self declared ex-drivers, ex-bakers, etc.

Publication makes you an author, which isn't necessarily the same thing.  That's just a sign that other people recognise your ability.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

SharonLeigh

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2011, 05:31:32 AM »
Hi Deb,

It`s a bit similar to what you & I discussed in pm... I know your stance on it, ( :) ) yet I still feel It wasn`t until I was actually paid for my writing that I felt I could say `I`m a writer`. Up to that point, it would be an aside, as in answer to someone questioning my hobbies: `Oh, I write`.  (after answering `what do you do?`  with: `I`m a dental assistant`)  :p  Once I`d earned $$, however, I felt I`d earned the right to say `I`m a writer`.  I`m still reluctant to say it, however, because people seem to quickly want you to quantify the statement.. and I`m definitely not in the big times, Heh!   :-D

Never mind the fact that I`ve been writing since childhood  ;)  For most of us, it`s in our blood.

Offline deborahowen

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2011, 06:34:12 AM »
Once you realise it's a part of you.  Not just what you do for a living or even a hobby, but an essential part part of what makes you tick. Gyppo


Oh, I like this. And Sharon makes a good point, too. I guess we all arrive at different points in our life.

Have you noticed that most people expect you to write and traditionally sell a book before THEY call you a writer?
Deborah Owen :)
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Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2011, 07:08:45 AM »
When someone other than my wife or mother wants to turn the page.

Skip

Offline Vienna

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 07:14:41 AM »
wen me gran tol me that's wot ah are and me riting is grate. ah love her , me gran
Just a well-read punk peasant

Going to church makes you a christian as much as standing in a garage makes you a car!

Offline Spell Chick

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 08:04:18 AM »
I write and am published in a variety of places, most of them non-ruminative. I'm a writer because I write. I found a place to actually pay me to write the stuff that I normally give away for free. I don't know if that makes me now an author or not.

I love the written word. No one ever questions when we become readers. Is it when we can look at C-A-T and know it is a cat? Is it when we read our first book with all the picture hints? Does it have to be a book without pictures and completely read? Are we then readers?

I believe you are a writer when you 1. do it without provocation (it isn't an assignment from a teacher) and 2. other people read it (it isn't your dairy or journal). There may need to be something about it being a complete work in itself. Posting to Twitter, Facebook, or any number of Forums doesn't make you a writer. It makes you a speaker using a medium requiring text rather than speech.

The problem with being a writer is that as soon as you say you are one, someone wants to know what you write and where they can see/buy it. So you better have a place where they can at least see it, if not buy it.

BTW, I have contributed to anthologies put out by MWC and while technically these are also non-paid pieces, the books themselves were sold for actual cash money. So I don't know exactly how to categorize these short stories. I was not paid, but someone paid to read them. 
Little Bits of History A short essay on something that happened on any day.

Imperfect Reason My thoughts, such as they are.

Offline Hugh

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 09:21:01 AM »
I remember being introduced to someone, with the comment, “He’s a writer.”

I could almost hear the cogs turning in the person’s mind . . .”What was the name again?”

Then came the inevitable question, “What do you write?”

When I said magazine and newspaper articles, and short stories, the response was typical: “Oh.”

She had never heard of me, I didn’t write best-selling novels, so I was evidently not a proper writer, merely a sort of journalist. But I wasn’t a journalist. I was a freelance writer, and a spare time one at that. I also edited two newsletters for voluntary organisations, was press officer for one, but that didn’t make me a writer.

One woman I know of has had umpteen novels published, all by Mills & Boon. No-one has heard of her, probably even most M & B readers. Does that make her less of a writer than Hemingway, who, incidentally, was a journalist, as were many who became famous novelists?

Publication is not the only measure of success, although it is, of course, a measure that a professional editor believes that enough readers will want to read your story to make it worth buying.

I personally don’t include self-publishing, in that anyone can have any old rubbish printed. Or put it in a blog on the Internet, which is unfortunate, as there is no control over the content. Some of the dreadful stuff you see in some blogs lowers the image of blogging generally, to the detriment of those who produce interesting, informative and well-written blogs.

But that’s enough soap boxing.

Anyone who writes can call themselves a writer. But if they haven’t bothered to learn the basics of grammar, spelling and punctuation, or how to craft a piece that someone other than their favourite auntie might want to read, in my opinion they are deluding themselves. 

When I was running writing classes I usually asked a new group why they were there. “Why do you want to write?”

There were all sorts of answers, but one woman said, “I don’t know. I just do.”

Guess who turned out to be the best writer.

But what do I know? Throughout my working life I was driven by the need to provide for my family, not by the compulsion to write. So evidently I’m not a writer.

Hugh

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 01:27:46 PM »
She had never heard of me, I didn’t write best-selling novels, so I was evidently not a proper writer, merely a sort of journalist.

It's just like actors. There are millions of actors, but only a few are well known.

I agree with Gyppo about writing being a part of you, but I'll only talk to other people about my stories when the topic
comes up. I don't want to sound full of myself, so I just keep it quiet.
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Offline deborahowen

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 01:29:28 PM »
When someone other than my wife or mother wants to turn the page. Skip

Ha! Know the feeling. Never let family read your work unless they're very supportive and not
critical. Does such a family exist? I've founded two writing schools and have been published
multiple times but my mother says, "You're not a writer. You haven't written a book."

That was an important lesson for me. I learned that my self-esteem and success don't
depend on someone else's attitude. If you don't believe in yourself, you're not a writer.
Deborah Owen :)
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 09:32:44 AM »
In my heart I actually feel more at home being a writer than a teacher. But until I make writing my full time job,
I'll always just say that I'm a teacher when asked. Oh, well. Just another goal to work towards.  :)
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Offline Motley

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011, 10:19:09 AM »
I've considered myself a writer from the moment I got halfway through my first novel's first draft. At this point, the word carries more weight because I'm a published writer of both non-fiction articles and short stories. Once I have a novel published I can tack on the title, "author" and then I will know I have arrived.  ;D

Offline deborahowen

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2011, 11:10:29 AM »
In my heart I actually feel more at home being a writer than a teacher. But until I make writing my full time job,
I'll always just say that I'm a teacher when asked. Oh, well. Just another goal to work towards.  :)

Your frame of mind is something more than urgent. If I were you, I'd say, "I'm a teacher and a writer, and no, I don't
teach writing. I teach ________." (You can always predict that question.)

I have four loves in life. Sorry. Hubby didn't make the cut. lol

1. The Lord
2. Educator
3. Writing
4. Musician
5. Well, hubby had to get in here somewhere. He's a 52-year habit.
Deborah Owen :)
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 01:53:39 PM »
I have four loves in life. Sorry. Hubby didn't make the cut. lol

1. The Lord
2. Educator
3. Writing
4. Musician
5. Well, hubby had to get in here somewhere. He's a 52-year habit.

You basically just described me. Only difference is I have a wife of 4 years and my guitar playing has gotten a bit
rusty since I started writing.  :D
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Two time Bram Stoker Award nominated editor publishing only the best in Dark Fiction. Check out Crystal Lake's books and grab two free titles by joining the newsletter.

Offline deborahowen

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Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 02:05:32 PM »
You basically just described me. Only difference is I have a wife of 4 years and my guitar playing has gotten a bit
rusty since I started writing.  :D

Know what you mean. My writing comes before everything, including laundry and meals.
I live in an RV and had to give up my piano. A keyboard just doesn't cut the mustard but
it's all I have. Think I'll shop for a Yamaha for my birthday.  :-)
Deborah Owen :)
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