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At what point......?

Got a question/comment about the business of writing or about the publishing industry? Here's your place to post it!
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At what point......?

Post by stu1883 » Thu June 4th, 2009, 5:22 pm

At what point in time did you actually consider yourself a writer? By that I mean, when somebody asked you your profession, at which point did you answer "I'm a writer!"

It may be a silly question but even though I am unpublished I do have a headful of ideas, a half written book and a dream to walk into my local library and see my book on the shelf - I am a writer......aren't I?

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Post by Anna Elliott » Thu June 4th, 2009, 6:44 pm

Absolutely you're a writer! You're a writer when you write--it's as simple as that.

Always scary to make those words "I'm a writer" come out of your mouth, though. My husband used to introduce me by saying practically in one breath, "This is my wife, Anna. She's a writer" because otherwise I would go to pretty much any lengths to avoid having to tell them myself! :)

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Post by SarahWoodbury » Thu June 4th, 2009, 6:55 pm

When you write, you're a writer. As an unpublished writer, though , it's really hard to say out loud, because you always feel like you have to qualify it. There is always that "but" in the back of my mind, that's really hard to shake, or brazen out when somebody asks.

Truthfully, it's not the first problem with this I've had. I've been a stay-at-home mom for 18 years now, and that's another job that gets strange reactions. I can see peoples' eyes glaze over the moment the words leave my mouth. I'm happy with that job too, though, so between the two choices, which do I pick, or do I say both because I don't want to diminish either?

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Post by Margaret » Fri June 5th, 2009, 6:06 pm

The important part, I think, when you're not yet published, is to be able to say to yourself, "I'm a writer," and believe it. That means writing on some kind of frequent, regular basis and piling up the pages (as you're doing). If you're doing that, you're a writer, whether or not you're a published author. After all, every author was an unpublished writer while working on the first book they published (and most published writers wrote several unpublished manuscripts before writing the one that finally found a publisher).

Telling other people (at least those who aren't also writers) that you're a writer before you have anything to show for it can be counterproductive, because the first response will be "What have you written?" It can make you feel defensive if you can't point to anything you've published. Plus, it's easy to get so caught up in talking about your writing project that you seriously diminish the internal pressure you need to write it. Also, people will start asking, "How's your book coming? Have you finished it yet? Have you found a publisher?" and you'll get very tired (if you're a serious writer) of having to say, "Just fine. Not finished yet. No, I haven't found a publisher." As much as possible, I think it's better to just write and not talk much about the fact that you're writing, except to other writers who understand the process and realize the slow and painstaking nature of it.
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Post by michellemoran » Sat June 6th, 2009, 1:51 am

I said it as soon as I wrote my first novel. I also added that I was a teacher (when I taught), but I first called myself a writer when I finished a professional-length piece. I don't think it matters what that piece is - a collection of poems, short stories, etc. Just so long as it's finished.
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Post by Celia Hayes » Sat June 20th, 2009, 8:58 pm

My answer is in two parts, actually: the first part came after I had been contributing to a weblog, which for a number of reasons having only a little to do with my own writing, had been noticed and followed by a large audience. One of them actually wrote to me and asked if I would put some of his favorite posts on a CD, and mail it to him so that he could read them at home, where he didn't have internet service. So he sent me a box of blank CDs, saying in effect, one for me, and use the rest for anyone else who wants them. I think this was the first inkling that I had that anyone would want to actually pay me for writing, even it it was only a box of blank CD - hey, I might be able to go somewhere with this writing thing.

When I first started calling myself a writer was when I got let go from a large corporation late in 2005, when I was about three chapters into my first novel. I floated out of there, with severance check in my hot little hand, thinking, "Oh, that's not too bad - I can stay home and work on Chapter 4 tomorrow!"

Ever since then, I've been a writer who does a little admin/office management on the side, rather than a office manager/executive secretary who writes a little on the side.
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