I really hate it when people ask me this – because what they really mean, what they are actually asking me, is “How do I make a living?” – and in all honesty, at the moment….I don’t!
I hate it because I don’t have a straight forward answer. I’d like to be able to say “I’m a Writer” – but I don’t actually make any money from that, at the moment anyhow. Some years ago I had a regular travel column with one of the local papers – but at that time I had a full time job (which had nothing to do with writing), so the travel gig was more of a hobby than a job.
There is the age old question to consider – when does one “become a writer?” At what point could I, in reply to the question …”and what do you do?” – give the response “I am a writer”…..and be able to feel comfortable saying it.
By definition I write, therefore I am a writer. But even as I write those words – and there’s no doubt that the words are true – by definition….. I feel like a phony. Then again I also spend time taking photographs – so does that make me a photographer? But I probably spend a good portion of my day tending our garden…..growing much of the food that me and my wife eat…and then again, since my wife is the one who is currently bringing home the bacon – by which I mean that she’s our income earner, I also play the role of housekeeper. So what do I do? Am I a writer, photographer, gardener, housekeeper – all of them…none of them? And sometimes I paint or draw – but I wouldn’t call myself an artist.
I don’t feel entitled to call myself a writer. Am I being paid to write? NO! Have I had a book or article published by anyone reputable? Er… NO! The only writing I currently do are my blog posts and of course I am working on a book…..or two. Aren’t we all working on a book…or two? So why oh why do I yearn to be able to call myself a writer and yet feel afraid to do so? And why does it concern me so much about how I am perceived by others?
I could take solace in the words of the “good and the great”…..
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway
If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
– Somerset Maugham
Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
– Ray Bradbury
The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.
– Russell Baker
Writing is its own reward.
– Henry Miller
I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.
– Erica Jong