On Writing – When Can I Call Myself a Writer?
When I studied journalism at university, I called myself a journalist or a reporter – – not a writer. I loved getting the facts, the different viewpoints, and probing into the deeper places of a story. After I graduated I got a job in marketing and PR for a big hospital. In that job I wrote news releases for the media, and I helped produced the quarterly news magazine. Granted when you write about the implications of the newest equipment for colonoscopies it was still probing deeper into a story, but I still didn’t call myself a writer. After that I kept a daily journal until I joined a writing group and decided to turn my personal life experiences into short stories. It eventually became my current fiction/non-fiction novel.
I think it was last year when someone asked me what I did and when I first said, with fear and trepidation, that I was a writer.
‘So what have you published?’ they asked.
‘Does a story on cholesterol and heart health in a news magazine count as being published?’
‘Like have you written any books?’
‘Erm. Working on one.’
Then I had that, oh-I’m-late-for-something-REALLY-important-and-I-gotta-go-look. ‘Well, nice chatting.’
The other day, I saw a blog post that answered that insecure question I have had. This writer put it so beautifully.
‘But the truth, and you know it down deep, is that it’s not the published book that makes you a writer. You’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music. You’re a writer because you can imagine something in such detail that it comes to life. You’re a writer because you’re obsessed with making your ideas clearer, tighter, fiercer. You’re a writer because you have every reason to stop (it takes too much time, pays too little, and the rejection hurts too terribly), but you can’t do it. It’s not that you love to write so much as you need to write.’ – Susan Henderson, author
That is what makes a writer, what makes me a writer – not a published work.
If that quote describes you, go ahead and give yourself permission to be called a writer.
Here is Susan’s full blog post if you want to read more:
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