Let’s say you are standing in a circle with a group of folks at a party, for our purposes let’s say it is a birthday party. You don’t know everyone in the circle, so folks start introducing themselves and each are asked what they do for a living. Simple. Then, it’s your turn. Your name rings no bells for the group. Thankfully your mother named you something decent that people can pronounce and spell if they have to. Then the moment comes. “And, what do you do?”
What goes through your mind when someone you don’t know tells you he or she is a writer? Do you think, “Yeah, in your dreams, buddy.” Or do you think, “Wow, didn’t I see you interviewed by Oprah last week?”
Well, I’m here to tell you that most writers I know fall in between those two responses. There are writer wanna-be’s that have yet to finish anything they’ve started. And, at the other end of the spectrum are the three writers everyone knows, and everyone has read their books. But the zillion other writers on the planet are ones whose names aren’t always recognizable and who’s work, while traditionally published to good reviews, is not known to the populous at large.
**The photo above is of me and author, Diana Gabaldon, (Outlander series) at a writers’ conference. This illustrates my point: Diana has sold a bazillion books. Everyone knows her on sight. Me? Not so much. We are both writers.
So, you’re at this party. Do you even have the right to call yourself a writer, if you are not a household name and have earned a six-figure advance on your next novel?
Yessiree Bob, you do! I’m here to tell you it takes courage to say out loud, “I am a writer.” But if you have dedicated your days to wrestling with words and ideas and how to put them together with impact; if your only writing time was/is from the children’s bedtime until the midnight hour or beyond; or if you’ve had the guts to keep writing after twenty-eight editors saw fit to reject your manuscript (but the twenty-ninth thought it was wonderful and published it) you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are a writer.
Writers are a ‘called’ bunch. I’ve tried to walk away from the calling. Rejection sucks. But, I always find my way back. Words live in me. I am their gatekeeper and they are counting on me to set them free, whether anyone reads them or not. Of course, I want them to be read. I want them to compel the reader. I want them to tell a story that matters. So, I keep at it. I do not want to come to the end of my life, look my Maker in the eye and say, “Sorry, it was just too hard.”
So, I write. I am a writer.