Lying, Bragging, or Dreaming?
When we first try out our baby steps in the world of writing and publishing, it seems almost crass to actually say: “I am a writer.” Either we feel we’re lying; or we’re bragging; or we’re flat out dreaming. It has almost a hollow ring to it.
I can remember attending a writer’s conference early on in my career, where one of the workshop leaders made us say that statement over and over again – out loud: “I am a writer.” “I am a writer.” “I am a writer.”
Of course, it seemed a bit silly at the time, and everyone in the room was highly self conscious. We laughed as we said it. However, there was something about making that statement repeatedly – and hearing our own voices making the statement – that had a freeing effect.
Professional, or Not?
You could ask a dozen different published authors at what point they were truly convinced of the fact that they were, in all reality, a writer. I’m sure you will receive a dozen very different answers.
When I served an artist-in-residence in various elementary schools, I explained to the students that many people drive every day. Vehicles on the streets and highways number in the tens of thousands. But only a small percentage of those drivers are what would be considered professional drivers. Those who actually make a living driving.
Likewise, people every day, everywhere, are writing. Just think of the number of blogs on the Internet, for example. Only a small percentage of those individuals consider themselves professional writers (or authors; or novelists).
Unlike that professional driver who has been certified by passing a number of tests, there is no structured test to pass that qualifies one to be labeled a professional writer.
For some it happens the first time money exchanges hands for a particular work that was authored, be that a magazine article, freelance project, ghostwriting gig, novel, or non-fiction book. Somehow the payment legitimizes the whole thing.
A copy of the first check I ever received for writing is framed and hangs on my office wall. There it will remain. For me, it truly was a monumental moment in my career. Even at that, I can’t say that was the very moment that I felt comfortable saying, “I am a writer.” It took a lot of those checks to make that happen for me.
Some writers know they are writers from little up. Scratching out stories on their wide-ruled notebook paper, they always knew deep in their knower that writing was indelibly etched in their future.
For others it happens when writing becomes an all-encompassing, serious endeavor. When writing becomes so important, it receives an increasingly higher rung on the priority ladder. The passion, no longer tamped down or ignored, is allowed to bloom and flourish. Money has no bearing on the equation. To this individual’s way of seeing it, the statement, “I am a writer,” now fits. No other opinion matters.
Where Your Passions Lie
It’s an interesting process. Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – simply being courageous enough to voice the statement makes it seem actually plausible. (i.e. ”Perhaps I really am a writer.”) Once the plausibility registers in the subconscious, the conscious oftentimes obediently follows along.
If this is where your passions lie, and if writing is what makes your inner being fulfilled and whole, an inner peace will come. Then it’s worth all the rough spots in the road that are part and parcel of this fascinating profession.
At that point you will proclaim with the necessary conviction: “I AM a writer!”
Re-release of the fourth book in my Tulsa Series (Return to Tulsa) originally published by Barbour Publishing in 1995, now available on Kindle and Nook. Return to Tulsa is historical fiction set against the backdrop of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. Check it out HERE.