There are a lot of articles and quotes online about what it is to be a writer. There are those who say you can’t be an aspiring writer – you are either one or you are not. There are those who say you have to tell the world you are a writer, otherwise it is merely a hobby and not a serious pursuit. And there are those who claim they know all the ins and outs of what it is to write.
I am none of these, though I do see the logic in the aspiring writer thing. Maybe people should call themselves aspiring authors instead. After all, anyone can write, but to finish a book, to have it in print or online in Amazon – that’s something else. But this is by the by. I have looked at all these views, and sifted through them, and come to my own conclusion: you are a writer if you believe you are.
I’m going to take myself as an example, because who else do I know as well? I don’t tell many people that I write. Most of my friends have no idea, and I certainly haven’t broadcast it among those I know in real life. (Hence the low numbers on my Facebook page.) There is a reason for this, but I won’t go into that right now. Suffice to say that by the time my novel has gone through a couple of betas I want to have a look at it, I’ll start spreading the word. I have stories published online under another name that only my husband knows about, despite the fact that within their online communities they are quite popular. But, for me, that has been a very personal part of my life, a private outlet for telling stories that I had in me.
However, I do see myself as a writer. I am taking this current novel very seriously and I do intend to publish it when the time comes, whether traditionally or independently. (I prefer the idea of traditional publishing, but am very aware that it’s very hard to break into. But again, that’s another issue for another day.) The fact that very few of my inner circle know about it is irrelevant to my dedication to the project. I am just as serious about trying to get a bit of an online profile before the novel is finished, and am trying to get involved in some new communities to boost my name awareness. In short, even if I’m being furtive in real life, I want to give myself the best possible chance of getting people in the wider world to read my book.
Does my reluctance to talk about it to my real life friends make me any less of a writer? I think not. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about it and I don’t doubt they will support me, I just want to have the finished (albeit perhaps unedited) manuscript in my hand before I share this part of my life. According to some pundits, this means I’m not taking it seriously. To me, though, I’m taking the same steps. I’m just taking them in a different order from other people.
Image by Hector Gomez