Since we’re on the subject ... I actually wrote this post a few days ago, but I only post one per day, LOL, so ...
You know that whole "when are you a real writer" thing?
Labels are mostly for others. They want to know where to put you, how to approach you, how to think of you, so they ask for your labels. We’re just ourselves, you know? How often do we really label ourself?
But saying you’re not something--or saying you’re not really something--carries much more power to yourself.
My journey to feeling like I was a real writer is strange.
I "grew up" as a writer in a nice, little bubble. I had one writing friend, one that wrote for the same two little pubs as I did, and that was it. We’d send each other stuff every day, but we’d only tell each other how much we liked it, encourage each other. I felt like a real writer, mostly because I wrote every day, and because I had to write that on my tax forms.
But then I joined RWA.
Oh, okay. I didn’t quite know what to think of all that, but I didn’t want to presume anything so I walked around saying I was a kinda-published author. Seemed fair, seeing as how I wasn’t about to "come out" with my pseudonym.
I still thought I was a writer, but after awhile of saying I was "kinda-published" I stopped feeling like a writer.
I thought, for a little while, that I’d feel like a real writer when I could pick up a book at Borders that had my real name on it. Okay, so that happened, but ... you know, it’s in the table of contents, not the front. It’s on the back, not the side. And it was just an essay, and besides, I was more concerned about hiding my name from the staff than anything else. (It’s my safe little writing haven! I can’t help it! I love my Borders!)
RWA came out with new standards that--I think--say I’m a real writer, but I didn’t feel like one and I just resented them for their segre-- (okay, we won’t go off on the RWA tangent today.) So then I figured I’d feel like a real writer when I sold to a NY-publisher.
So I waited.
I was just sitting and writing the other day. I suddenly felt--or suddenly realized--that good or bad, the words do what I tell them to. I know how to wield these words in my stories to have the effect I want them to have (at least on me, LOL).
(Of course there’s still tons of things I need to work on, tons of things I need to improve, tons of things I need to learn. And I often tell the words to do the wrong things, or go after the wrong effect, LOL ... and I still struggle with affect vs. effect and I still don’t know the difference between laid and lie and lay ...)
But on October 9, 2007, in the middle of writing a paragraph in my local Borders cafe, in the middle of a dull, uneventful day, I finally felt like a real writer (again?). I felt like I could play the page, almost with the same control I can play the piano.
A label is just a label, though. I almost missed the whole event if someone (sorry, forgot who!) wouldn’t have mentioned the ’feeling like a real writer’ issue.
The point is, although labels are usually for the purpose of others (we know ourselves, after all, and don’t need to label ourselves), we can’t let other people label us. I was skimming through a book about politics the other day, and it said that if you don’t label yourself, someone else will (in politics, they’ll do it in a negative way, LOL).
Labels should be what you do, not who others judge you to be. So, I label myself a pianist, piano teacher, and writer (in alphabetical order), LOL. If they still feel like listening, I tell them I study taekwondo (although not so much anymore, because of the foot) and that I live with DH and have four cats.
Do you feel like a real writer? When do you think you’ll feel like a real writer? And how do you label yourself? Is it different from how others label yourself? (I don’t even know how others label me!)