So, I have a little confession to make.
Sometimes, I don’t think of myself as a writer.
Oh, sure. I write things, but I rarely put them out there into the world for people to read. It seems they’re never good enough. They might be good enough for other people, but never for me.
I went to a writers’ fair thing a few weeks ago. It was a last minute decision, on my way to something else. It was a room full of other writers and small presses and writing programs (“Our program is $3000 and we’re very picky about who we accept.” “Well, I’m very picky about who I give $3000.”) all hawking their wares.
It would have been fine, I would have written it off as a wasted hour, but for my reaction to the question,”Are you a writer?”
I was asked several times. The answer should have come simply, without thought. “Yes. Yes, I am.”
But it didn’t. I stuttered and stumbled over my words apologetically. Am I a writer? “Sometimes,” I heard myself tell one particularly lovely little old lady.
“Oh, dear,” she answered. “Aren’t we all?”
Are we? Am I? Being a writer, to me anyway, has always been intrinsically linked to being published. You can call yourself anything, but unless you’re doing it, it’s not true, is it?
But I am writing. I’m just sans agent, sans publisher, sans finished work. Can I just go around telling people I’m a writer? I published that little short-story-that’s-not-really-a-short-story on Smashwords. Does that count?
If I do, the next problem comes immediately. Tell someone you’re a writer and they want to know what it is you’ve written. So, I stumble and mumble and fumble my words again.
I’ve got a couple projects I’m working on now, interrelated and terribly confusing to try to distill into just a few sentences when people ask. Do I tell people that I’m writing one thing with a werewolf and the other deals with some theological issues in such a way that I half expect to find a representative from th Vatican on my doorstep any minute? I rewrote the beginning of the world last night, from the perspective of a fallen angel. How’s that? Yeah, I think I hear the doorbell.
Okay, with all of that said, I have another confession.
Sometimes, I think I’m an amazing writer.
I read what others have written and I think,”I could have done that better.” I read what I’ve written and think,”Damn, I’m good.”
I imagine a time when my dentist will see my name on the NYT Bestseller list and think,”Yeah, I’m her dentist.”
Then I remember how far I still have to go with the two big projects before they’re remotely readable. How far? Ima guess 700 pages on the big, scary one; a couple hundred with the werewolf.
Maybe when I’m done, I’ll be a writer.