Friday, August 7, 2015

Are You a Real Writer?

Over the years, I've seen numerous blogs and memes and articles devoted to how to tell if you're a real writer.  Funny, I don't recall those same types of blogs and memes and articles for other professions.  You never see: 'Are you a REAL doctor?'  or 'Five ways to tell if you're a real postal carrier' or 'Things Real Grocers Do'.

No one doubts those professions.  Maybe it's because the things writers do are kind of mysterious and shadowy. Maybe it's because it's so damn hard to make a living being a writer.  Or maybe it's because we don't believe in ourselves enough and allow other people to define what it is to be REAL.

Maybe, like The Velveteen Rabbit it has to do with love.  :cue aww:

Personally, I think it's the self-doubt thing.  When I was a salesman, I never wondered whether I was a real salesman.  When I was a secretary, I never doubted whether I was a real secretary.  And if anyone had asked me if I was, or showed me a meme that would help me know for sure whether I was real, I would've laughed in their faces.  "Umm, see me here typing a letter, answering phones, collating stuff, etc.?  I think I know whether I'm a real secretary, thank you very much. Now piss off."

Psst.  Want to know a secret.  Lean in close.  The ways to tell if you're a real writer are:

1)  You write.
2)  You edit.
3)  You angst over your writing.
4)  You curse over the editing.
5)  You try to make your writing the best writing you can achieve.
6)  You try to get published and when all else fails, you publish yourself. Because...
7)  You would like to get paid to write eventually, someday, maybe*.
8)  When you can't write, you're thinking about writing.

Done that?  Well, then I guess you're probably a writer. I know I am.  I wouldn't presume to know about you to tell you for certain one way or the other.  You're the only one who can tell whether you're a real writer.  I would guess if you care enough to worry whether you are one, you probably are one.

Oh, and if any of the above 7 don't apply to you, but you still think you're a real writer, then you probably are a real writer.  Like I said, you're the only one who can tell for certain.  Your mom doesn't know.  Your siblings don't know.  Your teachers don't know.  Certainly someone on the internet who never met you, never sees how much you want this and how hard you work, or probably wouldn't read your stuff anyway doesn't know what is in your heart about this whole writing business.

Now, please note that I didn't put WRITES EVERY DAY.  Yeah, that's a lovely dream, but life intrudes.  And even after you're an O-fficial published writer, you may not write every day.  There's editing and marketing and other writerly tasks you may do every day, but writing ain't necessarily going to be one of them.  Lord knows, I would love to write every day, but I don't.  I do writerly stuff every day.  That's doesn't make a writer either, though.

Refer back to #1-8.

Any questions?  Now go.  Be a writer.  Be a reader.  Be a dentist or a bartender or a veterinarian - if those are your professions.  Just never let anyone try to tell you whether you're a REAL anything.  You make that decision. It's in your hands.  It always was.

*A note to add to my #7. All your books can be free, but I think a real writer still harbors the hope that someday someone will acknowledge their worth by scooting a little moolah their way.