Friday, August 3, 2012

When Is A Writer Legitimate?

Being an intensely introverted person, I don't like to talk about my writing.  With some people, it's not a problem (*cough* Tyler-Rose), and a lot of people are tactful or uninterested enough that it's not an issue, but other times when people ask...well, I find it really awkward. 

And it's not just because novels often sound stupid when you try to explain what they're about (but THAT TOO).  I think, for me right now, it's because I don't feel legitimate. 

So I asked myself:  When will I be able to tell people I'm a writer and not feel like some uninitiated imposter who just wriggled forth from the Closet of Awkward? 


Will I be legitimate if I win a contest? 

If I get a short story published? 

If I get an agent? 

If I get a book published? 

If I write and publish 22 books, have a fabulous career, and am able to buy a small island with the royalties? 


After I thought about it, I realized:  I am legitimate RIGHT NOW.  And the only thing between me and realizing that is...me. 

I write because I love it, because it's who I am, because I have some important things to say, and because I think it's what I'm meant to do. 

And THAT is legitimate.  THAT is valid.  Even if I am, at this point, just hiding away with my laptop, chipping away at a dream.

16 comments:

  1. Well said, Susan! Those are definitely the reasons I keep writing. I know poetry is not the most well accepted thing (ahem, particularly if you're a guy), but that thought wouldn't be able to stop me from writing it. It's too much of a part of me for that.

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    1. Yep, you can't let popular sentiment get in the way of being yourself.

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  2. That's a very good perspective to keep in mind. I believe you're a writer when you declare yourself one...as you obviously have! Of course, people are going to judge you however. When you say "I'm a writer", they'll usually say back, "Oh, what have you published?" And if you say no, they frown and get that "So how are you a writer?" face. But if it's something you're serious about then I think you have every right to call yourself a writer. Keep at it!

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    1. Thanks, Hildred. I think the point where other people respect someone for being a writer is a lot farther along--probably somewhere around the place where you actually get a book published. But in order to get there, (for me, at least, it seems) you have to respect yourself and believe in your own legitimacy much earlier on. I guess that's why it's so hard. :)

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  3. Well said! I am much like you in this department, I rarely talk about my writing for pretty much the same reasons. But you're right, we are legitimate because WE feel it's what we are meant to be doing.

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  4. Never. LOL. At the way I think....I will never feel comfortable to say I am a writer and I have been called a "writer" since I was 6!

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    1. Haha well... I must admit, while this post is 100% sincere, it doesn't mean I'm suddenly, completely confident about being an aspiring author. It's still awkward when people bring it up in the wrong way. It might always be. But beneath the awkwardness and the uncertainty, I know I can respect myself for what I'm doing, even if other people don't. :)

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    2. I think a writer is legit when they first sit down to write stories. It's something that happens within, in reality, though. When you're ready to realize what you're doing, that's when your able to call yourself a writer. As for going public, that too, depends on the person. Success is different for us all.

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    3. Well-said, Traci. Very well-said.

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  5. As strange as it feels calling myself a "writer", I think you become one the minute you dedicate yourself to and complete a potentially saleable piece of work (short story, poem, full length MS) This, for me, is "writer" without the additional labels, like "fanfiction writer" or "hobby writer." I love the SCBWI way of saying it: we're "prepublished" :)

    It still feels weird, though. And when people ask me if I am, I usually say "I'm trying." But, you're right! We need that confidence to say "I am a writer!"

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    1. "Prepublished"--I LOVE that. I think...what I was trying to get at is that even if you still squirm when people say, (cringe) "How's the book going?" there needs to be part of you, deep down, that doesn't squirm. Part of you that knows you don't need to be insecure.

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  6. I know what you mean - I kind of hate talking about my work! Especially unfinished projects.

    But when you buy your island, can I come and visit? :)

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  7. I love this post. It reminds us that we don't need to be a published author who's famous to be a writer. We write, because we love to. It's true. Well said!

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