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.