I read this great post today by Liz Strauss on the problem that both bloggers and writers struggle with in regard to when they are really "writers." Liz listed 7 traits that all writers have in common and many of them resonated with me as well.
So I thought it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about my writing career and when I decided I was a real writer. The thing is, I force myself to call myself a real writer every day that I wake up because if I don't, then what the heck am I doing writing?
As far back as elementary school I was already telling my teachers and anyone else who would listen that I was a writer and going to be famous. I kept saying this throughout my life in school and when I finally got to the amazing Goddard College, I realized I was in a giant group of people who had done the same thing all their lives. Amazing.
The thing about writing that drives most of us, is that we can't not do it. So we are writers! Roy Blount Jr. once wrote in a letter to me, what E.B. White had written to him years before, "If you can't but not write, then you're a writer."
So I've been a writer all my life. It isn't if your stories ever hit the big time, if you ever write for leading pubs, if you're in magazines because at the end of the day - it's not for me about the readers - and how many may or may have not read my stories - it's about the WRITING!
I can't but not write.
I'm the only Mom I know who still pens handwritten thank you notes and you'd be surprised how many business writing gigs that same effort has brought me. I'm the only one who wants to rewrite the menus so they're snappier and who handwrites "As I Lay Dying" by Faulkner each summer in a spiral notebook while still trying to figure out his skill. (southern!!)
So each pencil to paper, every digit to keyboard and each sigh met with the blank screen makes you a writer. A writer continues despite the disappointment, the unbearable ache of another writing block, a too quick critic or an editor who only looks for commas and not the real "content". What makes you a writer in Blount Jr.'s words (summarizing E.B. White's note) is "when you can't but not write."
And as Liz said in her wonderful post "How do I know I'm a writer? Try as might avoid it, I simply must write."
Now go and write! And blogging counts too, and thank you notes count too, and essays count too, and journaling counts too!!!!