The Magic Title of Writer

Struggling Writer

Since claiming to be a writer, which has only been in the last few years, I’ve struggled with that term.  Am I really a writer if I am not published?  I’ve seen it countless times, some from articles, others in films and tv, where a writer will lament that they are not published, so obviously can’t be called a writer.  And it can be anything that is published. You write, but you are not a writer.  The question comes down to either you are, or either you are not.  But who is doing the classification of the position?  Is it the writers themselves, or is there some cosmic rule that you must be published first?

I never understood the feeling of being in that position, not wanting to call myself a writer, until last year when I was watching Julie and Julia.  At one point, Julie (Amy Adams) says that she isn’t a writer because she hasn’t published anything.  Even though she has something like half a book written.  I had been questioning why I didn’t call myself a writer and why it gave me pause.  Hearing that little statement cleared every thing up for me.

Granted, I have been writing for years, but I never really let on about it until probably the last 6 years.  It seemed embarrassing as I struggled to emulate one of my favorite authors, Emilie Loring.  I still have those first 3-5 pages, from when I was fifteen, that I shudder at.  What was I thinking? 

Because I was embarrassed at the time for writing a sappy romance, I kept my writing a secret.  I would scribble bits and pieces of a story on scrap paper, keeping them paper-clipped together in an old briefcase my parents let me borrow.  Under ‘lock and key’, I would only pull it out at times when no one was around.  At times I would type it all up at the library, spending precious dimes for each page the printer spit out.  Those pages would be clipped with the original and eventually they would be found with editor’s marks and notes all over the pages. (If there is one think I love more than writing it’s the editing and proofreading stage.  Rewriting is a passion. The class on editing was one of my favorites in high school.)

It wasn’t until I got my own laptop that I really began to indulge  in writing.  Prior to that, I would borrow the family computer, but in a heavy traffic area of the house, the notion that anyone could stop  and read over my shoulder kept the typing at bay.  I still remember when my mother exclaimed over something she read over my shoulder as she walked by.  (Tell me. How is it possible to read Times New Roman at size 12 unless you are purposely reading? It’s not.)

Around the time I got my laptop was when I started letting it slip that I wrote. Most of this was because one of my girl friends also wrote and we would swap chapters of each other’s work and edit them.  We discussed ideas and plans of what we wanted to accomplish.  That’s also when I started getting more creative  with ‘plot’ ideas.  I say that loosely as I do not plot.  Mostly it was just scenarios.

However, the actual point of when I truly claimed to be a a writer was when I showed my parents my first draft of a rhyming children’s picture book. T hat was three years ago.  Since then, I’ve written two more picture books, some poetry, started two blogs, I walk around with scraps of notebook paper and pens in my pocket, and I am in the process of getting a literary agent for the picture books.

I am constantly writing now. I am constantly thinking about writing.  You would probably say from all fo that, that I am a writer.  I don’t feel like a writer though, because of that one word. Published. 

That word has a magical connotation. To be published. To be revered enough to have your work on a bookshelf in someone else’s home. To have the credibility to actually write.  It’s a pretty heady thought.

Okay, so technically being published isn’t all that is making me have issues with the title: writer.  It also has to do with my envious-ness at other ‘writers’ who can blog and write amazing things. People Like Albert Berg, Matt Dutiel, and Marvin Allan Williams.  They are amazing writers.  They have this ability to wax poetic on any number of things.  Don’t believe me?  Check them out.

Then I look at my trivial little posts and wonder. Really, is it too arrogant to even think I can call myself a writer.

I wonder.  And I wonder if other writers feel the same way.

~Writing on



8 thoughts on “The Magic Title of Writer

  1. You’re sweet to say such nice things about me, but you shouldn’t be ashamed to call yourself a writer. It isn’t arrogance or egotism. It’s just you letting people know who you are and what you love.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it many times again: it doesn’t take a special person to be a writer. All you need is love and hard work.
    If you’re not to the place you want to be with your craft you shouldn’t worry. The time to worry is when you begin to believe that you have arrived.
    Keep up the good work and don’t give up. I’ll be cheering for you all the way.

    • Well thank you for your comments as well, and I appreciate the cheering. (psst, we all need boosts, and mine went your way. Thank you for your’s in return) And you know what? It’s late at night and I can’t properly respond to your comments other than to say thank you, and it was very nice to read.
      🙂 Oh, and I don’t think I will ever believe I have arrived. There is just too much out there to think I will ever know much. A handful of sand in a desert.

  2. aloha Kate – i’m here because you left a comment and twitter(ed) on one of my posts (thank you). i can relate to your issues about the title of “writer”. if we write, then yeah, we are writers – that’s the way i see it. …however i also see that there is a difference between a Writer and a Published Writer. altho now with print on demand, i’m finding that line has begun to blur too. …still… yeah, you have a point – a Writer, who is recognized by peers in the industry as being worthwhile to publish. yeah, that’s a higher level to reach for. cool on reaching for it tho. it’s similar to calling yourself an Artist. altho the way i see that is that we are all artists – even if some people have not realized it – yet. which isnt to say anything about how good we are – just that we are what we are – artists. creators. . . yeah. at this point in time, the way i see it, i’m just going to do what i do to the best of my ability – which i hope will keep improving – and let someone else decide where i am on the Writer/Artist tag. i can easily call myself an Artist. i have a more difficult time calling myself a Writer. i just dont think i know enough to quite reach that level – yet. that wont stop me from writing tho. and one day i will publish. even if it’s just on demand. at this point i’m okay with that too. because the main thing i like, is doing this stuff of writing, and arting. what’s fun is the more i do it, the more i learn and the more i learn the better my chances are of getting better. and i like that too. so, i’m working on fun. and doing what is fun for me – both in writing and arting. it looks to me like you’re doing that too. so cool on that. and fun on you. aloha.

    • Aloha Rick,
      Thanks so much for your inspiration comments. Quite inspiring. And thank you so much for reading as well. Best of luck on your adventures with the title of Writer/Artist. I agree, we are all artists, it just depends on what area you specialize in.

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  4. “(Tell me. How is it possible to read Times New Roman at size 12 unless you are purposely reading? It’s not.)”

    Oh Katie I laughed SO HARD when I read this line!

    Publication is SO huge in the world of writing, but it doesn’t define something as good; nor does not being publish mean something is bad. Nor does it define the creator of said material as a “writer” or “not a writer.” All it does is mean that person is an author (Which I use here to define a person whose works who have been published). Great works go unpublished; trash gets printed (and vice versa). People become authors; writers just write.

    • I know, isn’t that funny? It wasn’t at the time….. And my parents wonder why I was secretive for a while there.

      I know publication doesn’t define, yet I have those moments of self doubt. I like your definition. You are an author if published; a writer if you write. That’s very good.

      Oh, and yeah, there is a lot of trash that does get published. 😛 Thanks for the boost. Always appreciated.

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