What makes you a writer?

I have this ongoing conversation with myself, my close friend, and sometimes my husband. I complain about how much I want to be a writer and my husband, in his ever logical wise-ness merely replies “so write something!”. My friend says that’s what she wants too. I then reply to her, “so what’s stopping us?! Why aren’t we writers yet?” Too scared? Too lazy? Too….. oh I don’t know!

Today, as I sat and banged out another few pages of the fantasy novel I’m writing, I was disheartened by what utter crap I was writing. I have reached a point now where I am just filling up the pages with waffle in order to satisfy my husband’s order to complete at least one chapter every two weeks. It’s a good plan really as it is making me write. Whether it’s good or not doesn’t really matter. I am getting practice. Who knows, this method may actually get me to finish the damn book I’ve been writing for so many years now. It’s so close to finished… it’s over 60,000 words so far. It is definitely a novel. So…perhaps that means I’m a writer? Well not to me. To me, being a writer is being published. Having other people actually read the words I write and either love them or hate them. I am not too sure yet, how I would go with them hating my words, but I am sure I could cope better now than I could a few years ago when I started writing my book!

I grew bored of the chapter I was writing and I remembered my husband saying I must write one chapter every two weeks, but it doesn’t have to be a chapter of the current book. It could be a chapter of anything I have an idea for. Previously, I’ve been focused on writing my current novel simply because I am the type of person who really likes to finish something they started. I feel like I cannot move forward until I finish this book! I don’t really care if no one publishes it, but I do care that I actually bring it to completion and send it out in the world to fend for itself whether good or bad, just so that I have completed the process in full.

The main problem with this theory is that it has stopped me writing other things. Things which I might have more luck with. My mother keeps not so subtly telling me that I am really good at writing ‘real life’ things. Re-telling things that have happened to me. I have a knack for it she says. This often makes me feel that she’s gently trying to tell me that I am not good at writing fantasy. She may be right. But I simply have to see this through!

So, does having a blog that a few people read make me a writer? Again, to me, not really. I count that as unpublished. Perhaps I am too hard on myself. With these thoughts in my mind I suddenly remembered a quote from  Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I am going to quote the paraphrased version used in the movie Sister Act 2, which is a movie I loved and I loved this part of it.

“A fellow used to write to him and say: “I want to be a writer. Please read my stuff.” And Rilke says to this guy: “Don’t ask me about being a writer. lf when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing…then you’re a writer.”

So, with that in mind… I am slightly sad to say that I am probably not a writer. I  am however, a mum (and maybe a singer…and definitely a foodie)




This entry was posted in Life in general, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What makes you a writer?

  1. TheOthers1 says:

    I had someone say that publishing makes you an author, but writing makes you a writer. You cheat yourself by not claiming the title I think. You are a writer because you have a desire to write. I think it would change your outlook on what you do if you changed how you saw yourself.

    • KL says:

      Oh I do like that idea about the difference between author and writer. I will henceforth endeavour to think better of myself. 🙂

  2. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    I will be honest with you. Don’t listen to your husband. Listen to your mother.
    I am a moderately successful writer of personal essays, soon to have a collection released called Belly Button Blues. Like your mom mentioned regarding you, I have a knack for relating my own experiences. Like you, I tried to write a novel. In the end, I “mined” the completed work for a bunch of essays–all of which were published in various magazines or newspapers.
    In regards to writing every day, I only sit down to write when I have something to say. On the days I’m not writing, I like to think that I’m “gathering data.”
    You mentioned that you got bored with the chapter you were writing. A fellow writer told me once, “If it’s boring to write, it’ll be boring to read.” If you think it’s “utter crap,” your reader will too.
    Because you’re able to express yourself so clearly and succinctly in this blog, you are definitely a writer. So learn to listen to yourself and write about what excites you or comes easy to you. Also, it’s okay to let go of a project if it’s not working for you–or at least shelve it for a time and let it brew in the back of your mind. Yes, spend that time writing about something different.
    I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, but I could feel your frustration as I read this essay (another indication that you’re a good writer), so I only mean to encourage you.

    • KL says:

      Thank you for your comments. I took nothing harsh from them, and I am encouraged 🙂 The mere fact that someone read my blog who isn’t related to me in some way has made my day! That being said, your advice does make perfect sense. I have some thinking…followed by some writing to do.

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