Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Define writer

I was struck by a post over at Pens Fatales that talked about defending oneself as a writer. And it stuck me once again as to how and who defines the term writer.

I read Martha's post and felt inspired by her dedication. And I have to admit to feeling a tad bit jealous, too.

What makes one writer? Is it someone leading the writing life, with a manuscript, an agent, conferences and events and all kinds of other social networking that goes along with the publishing process?

Or can a real writer also be that working mom with very limited time to craft stories after dinner, dishes, and homework?


  1. From the definition that I got from The Literary Lab and Janet Reid's blog, you are a writer the moment you finish a manuscript. Their premise being - that anyone can start a novel, but can you finish it. An editor doesn't care how many ideas you have, or chapters, or things started, they want to know if you'll be able to follow through with them.

    On a personal note, I do not have an agent, or go to conferences, or events, do not sign up for contests, have a web-site, or any of that other hype. I have a finished manuscript. I am a writer.

    And might I add, that once you finish a manuscript you are then prompted to find the nearest mirror and say into it, "I am a writer." Read the blogs, it's true.

    A real writer can have a husband, dogs, parents, children, a job, dishes, laundry and other assorted things to do with her life, but as long as she continues to write something, then she remains a writer.

    Sorry this was so long but I went through the same thing in October.

  2. Please don’t apologize for long; I liked the thoughtful response from someone who has obviously given this a great deal of thought and reflection.

    I’ve always thought of myself as a writer as opposed to a person who writes, but it’s nice to be validated and to know that I have been so for years, ever since I finished my first novel. It came in after editing at a little over 103,000 words start to finish.

    And congratulations to you as well.

  3. Good for you. You ARE a writer then.

    And I really like that distinction - a writer as opposed to someone who writes. I would never have thought of it that way. You're so smart.

    And just so you know, I finished Masquerade at 126K. Chopped it down to 115K. And I still have 25K more to go. It's a daunting task, that's why it's still in slumber mode for a little while longer. I can't seem to get up the gumption to tackle another revision yet.

  4. Ah, the eternal question. I've heard the "I write therefore I am a writer" and the "you're not a writer until you get published" to a host of things in between.

    I've written since I was 14 but have never considered myself a writer. I feel I need legitimacy and have always considered myself "one who writes".

    Which really doesn't answer the question, does it.

  5. PW - Thanks. I like the distinction as well. I think it works well on a number of levels. And I think it implies a love/respect for the craft of writing that writers, to me, have.

    It does take a lot to endure yet another revision, no matter how much love you have for your work. So it’s ok to give yourself a break. That’s a lot of words to look at. I feel your pain.

    I ended up chopping about 60k out of the finished novel, most of which will end up in the sequel if I ever go back to it. It’s one of the two novels I’ve mentioned.

    EP – I have always considered you a writer. And a good one at that. I love reading your stuff, and I’ve learned from reading your stuff.

    But I totally get the whole need for legitimacy thing. We all need that and validation cuz sometimes the internal variety just doesn’t make it.

    And don’t worry. You usually do end up answering my questions.