I posed the question of who is and is not a writer to Redditors and got quite a few responses, take a look!
Good afternoon fellow writers!
I decided, at the age of 29, that I was going to head back to school, to pursue a degree in English with the intention of eventually teaching young hopefuls the ins and outs of the creative writing craft. I’d taken a few classes while earning my Associates and had garnered a fair amount of praise for my short fiction. Certainly nothing to brag about, but enough to give me the confidence to continue my writing and feel somewhat good about myself. As small as my new schools offerings in creative writing classes turned out to be, my enthusiasm was strong and I impatiently waited for the first day of Creative Writing 202 to begin.
I knew the moment I stepped into the classroom that this was where I belonged. The large tables were draped in a square to facilitate group discussions. Along their smooth tops were patches of missing enamel and warn blotches where doodles had been scrubbed from partial memory. Their rubber edges peeled back in most places reminding me of my own desk at home as I’d torn it apart haphazardly, straining to find the right words to put to paper. A few random students populated the worn out swivel chairs that dotted the circumference of our community watering hole. I took a seat, quickly choosing the one which seemed to offer the least amount of damage, subconsciously knowing that I’d need that fresh space to nervously deconstruct while whittling away my own anxieties throughout our workshops.
The class began and our instructors words bounced through my thoughts as I pictured my classmates smiling and cooing to the stories I would craft that semester. Quickly, she broke us into small groups. “To learn a bit about each other, on a personal level,” she’d said.
“Hey guys, my name’s Michael and I’m a writer,” I said. I smiled as I waited for their polite exchange of name.
“What are you working on now,” the girl who’d identified herself as Tanya asked?
“Well, I’ve got a few half written shorts I need to finish, but It’s been some time since I’ve had a chance to work on them lately. I’m an older student, have to pay the bills first ya know. My favorite is about…” It was so exciting to be sharing myself like this again!
“So you’re not really a writer…” Tanya interrupted. Her thin, misshapen eyebrow peaked at it’s edge as she launched an accusatory glance.
“Excuse me,” I responded. “What do you mean?”
“A writer writes….a lot. I write every day. Sometimes I write more than two thousand words a day. A writer has dedication and finds time no matter what. I’m not trying to be mean, I just don’t think you can call yourself that yet.”
This is not the first time I’ve been told that and It certainly hasn’t been the last. In my earlier years, hearing this made me feel like shit. Sure, I don’t have the same process as everyone else, but who does? There was a point in my life where I let the stinging accusations of those that felt they had it all figured out, hurt me. It effected the way I saw myself and nearly changed the path I chose for my future.
I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. I am a writer; I say it proudly and with the strongest conviction. You ARE a writer!
That’s right, I said it, you ARE a writer! Whether you’re staring at the ceiling and watching dragons fly between the walls of your bedroom, emotionally pouring your heart out in a 400 page novel on the difficulty of being a teenage prom queen in the 21st century or composing your weekly grocery list, it’s the INTENTION of writing it down and possibly sharing that information with others that makes you a writer.
Sure, you should always be working to get as much written down as you can, but this is not so that you can earn the title of writer, you do this so that you can see the faces of the lucky ones you allow to share in those thought processes that you’ve toiled over. Life is a complicated scenario that often leaves far less time than we’d prefer to work on putting our thoughts to paper. Those gaps in “production” can not take away your title as writer. The moments you spend in your head, dreaming and conceiving the finite details of stories untold are what make up the majority of the writing process. It’s really not until the final length of the journey that most of us will actually pull them from our minds and put them down somewhere permanent.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a Hemingway, a Shakespeare, a King or a Rowling to be a writer. Sure, it doesn’t hurt. Who doesn’t wish they had the raw talent and time that some of these greats possess? Hell, even those people that have no inclination whatsoever towards being a writer can’t deny that they’d take those skills given the opportunity. Unfortunately, for the majority of us, it doesn’t come so easily. It’s a talent for many, and an acquired skill for most. In that fact though, lies the beauty. Writing is a skill you can learn! If it’s something you desire, like most other skills, putting in enough time, effort and sweat, can easily reap results that will win the hearts and minds of those around you. Lets face it, if there’s one thing to be seen in this high tech, digital age of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and all the other mindless forms of communication, it’s that it isn’t always so hard to please the masses.
I want you to keep those two thoughts in mind. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to put it on the paper, and writing is a skill that can be learned and cultivated. My goal here is to help keep these ideas at the forefront of your thoughts. To help you avoid the discouragement that others might try to force on you, and to help disseminate some of the tools and ideas that I’ve learned in my own journey through the sometimes torturous world of writing.
Whether you’re at the long pre-drafting process, constantly thinking about your story as you go about the monotonous actions of your daily life, or sitting in front of your computer screen and actually putting those words down, remember that you ARE a writer and it’s not up to anyone but yourself to make that determination!
Write on writers!