I have a tough question for any aspiring and emerging writers. What’s that? You don’t like deep probing? Well, who besides a proctologist does?
Don’t worry; this question has nothing to do with your nether regions, though it might feel just as dark and dirty.
So, sit up. Clear your mind. Take a sip of your chosen potion. Now, let’s get started.
When do you call yourself a writer?
Do I sense head shaking and eye rolling at my built-up suspense? Not a hard question at all? Well, maybe I’m a wuss; no secret there. But if the act is so easy, I propose a challenge. The next time you are out in public, and somebody inquires as to your occupation, instead of merely responding “teacher” or “accountant” or—oh, what the heck—“fluffer”,* add “and writer” to your personal description. Not easy, is it? Not without sounding pretentious.
Of course, I’m not referring to those of you consistently published and making a literary living. (And yes, I am deluding myself you are reading this post. Various tinctures and concoctions see to that.) Rather, I’m referring to those of us dipping our first timid toe into the stream.
I always thought I would boast the title of writer once published.
Then again, I also used to think I’d marry Parker Stevenson.
So here I am, contract in hand, leap made, day job a mere rearview dot, yet the word writer, at least as a self-described moniker, has not once graced my mumbling lips. Heck, it hasn’t even entered my psyche.
But guess what has? You got it. That petulant nemesis, good old self-doubt. A juicy role played by none other than my personality fiend, the ominous Mr. Nasty Pants.
Our verbal tag goes something like this:
Me: “Oh, wow, I did it! I took the leap, left my job, and am now writing full-time! Does that mean I can finally call myself, well, you know,” my voice dropping to a whisper, “a writer?”
Mr. Nasty Pants: “Ha! A writer! That’s a good one! Spitting out words on a blog doesn’t make you a writer. Seriously? You quit graduate school and whittled your job to mere hours? What kind of idiot are you?”
Me, clearing my throat: “Well, I am getting my first book published.”
Mr. Nasty Pants, face pinched, voice a vicious mock: “Well, I am getting my first book published. Yeah, who cares? You didn’t land a New York big house, did ya? Just some little publisher. You haven’t even heard from your assigned editor, and yet your book is supposed to come out in September? Dream on, Little Lady!”
Me, scratching my hiving neck: “But I have a contra—”
Mr. Nasty Pants: “Yeah, well I got a functioning crap detector. And it’s telling me your little book stinks.”
Me: “Well, it is true I could do better. I wrote it several years ago. I’ve had more practice now.”
Mr. Nasty Pants: “Please. Don’t kid yourself, Sweet Cheeks. You’ll always suck. Doesn’t matter, anyway. No one will buy your book. Well, not on purpose, though I suppose an unintended mouse click is always possible.”
Me, looking down at the floor, kicking a Cheerio under the fridge: “I’m okay with that. I just wanted to pass the threshold, you know? Step into the life and perfect my craft. To be, well, a writer.”
Mr. Nasty Pants: “Well, fat chance of that! Stephen King is a writer. Margaret Atwood is a writer. John Irving is a writer. You, my dear, are not a writer. At best, you’re a blogger. And that’s being generous.”
And there you have it. A glimpse of what I have to put up with. A glimpse I timidly proffer, because, after all, sharing my journey from one life to another is the very mission of this blog. Well, that and to be a ranting imbecile.
But surely, some of this must sound familiar. I cannot be the only one with acres of self-doubt.
So, for those of you who write, do you call yourself a writer? Not just to yourself or to your imaginary friend or in a hushed whisper to your naked bedmate (who may also be pure imagination), but for real, in true life, to actual people, for the whole world to hear, loud and proud, and with complete unabashed proclamation?
If so, I respectfully request you let me in on your secret.
*My apologies to those who had to look up the word “fluffer”. I doubt you were pleased with your findings.
All cartoon images from, you guessed it, Microsoft Clip Art
- The Writers Rating Authority (pochp09.wordpress.com)
- Blogger, Writer, Author- Which One are You (gettysburggerry.wordpress.com)
- Why Bloggers Aren’t (Necessarily) Writers (inurbase.wordpress.com)