Recently, a friend of mine put out a call to talk to people who felt their work was a calling. This has lead to a series of interviews about following your bliss, including one with me that you can read here. But do keep an eye on this blog series.
I think one of the hardest thing for writers, especially in the beginning, is realizing that they are writers. They don’t need a degree, they don’t need publication credits, they don’t need some fairy godwriter to come down from the heavens and anoint them as writers.
To my mind, so much of this is tied to the notion of tangible success being a determining factor about whether or not something is worthwhile to do. That one cannot legitimately claim to be a writer without showing proof of their writerliness. This isn’t true. Writing isn’t like being a doctor–you need a certain about knowledge and training and qualifications to be a doctor. To be a writer, all you need is to write. It’s so simple that sometimes it’s hard to absorb.
I think were it also gets problematic is that other people, non-writers, figure that if being a writer only requires writing, then it has no value because most people can construct words and sentences into something comprehensible. What’s so hard about that? But this is the difference between writing well and just putting words on paper.
So in some ways, the only thing to really be a writer is to care about your writing. To have it matter to you. To want it to be more than just basically functional, but for it to be good, to be beautiful, to make you think, to make you feel–whatever writing that matters looks like to you.
None of that is a promise of success. Granted, doing something well gives you better chances of success than doing something poorly. But there are no guarantees.
But you probably know that. If you’ve been writing for a little while, if you’ve tried to submit work anywhere, you probably know that just having written something you think could maybe be good is no guarantee that other people will decide to publish it, let alone pay you money for it, let alone pay you a lot of money for it.
But you still wrote. You still tried. You are still trying.
That’s why you’re a writer.
(Psst! I have a class starting next week and there are just 2 spaces left!)