For some reason 2016 has turned into the year where I’ve questioned different aspects of writing. Questioning what it is that I truly want from my writing career. Questioning what kind of writer I want to be. Questioning who and what to pay attention to, just to give a small sampling of the existential crisis I seem to be suffering from.
One of the questions I’ve asked myself repeatedly is “What is a real writer?” Is it the person who wins literary awards and is a critics’ darling? Is it the person who sells millions of books and rakes in staggering amounts of money? Is it the person who slaves away for years, decades in obscurity, never has a single thing published, yet has an amazing amount of talent? Or is it something else?
A real writer is all of that and everything in between. I used to have a narrow view of what constituted a real writer. I believed I couldn’t call myself a real writer until I had something published. Or made the transition from writing short stories to novels. Or having a novel published. In my ignorance I relied upon my ignorance of what I thought it meant to be a writer as inaccurately presented to me via the media.
However, this year I’ve determined the definition is whatever each individual writer determines it to be. In a way it’s similar to what you define as success and how you go about achieving it. As human beings it’s difficult to not compare ourselves to others. It’s how we motivate and push ourselves to do better in life. It’s also how we can wind up destroying our lives feeling we cannot live up to expectations. It doesn’t help when others give strong opinions on the topic. The adamant, confidence in which our favorite author or fellow writers speak with gets into our heads.
Hell, I’ve probably made an asinine statement defining it somewhere on this blog. If I have, I apologize and seriously, ignore it unless I somehow wasn’t an ass and said a “real” writer is whatever the hell you think it is.
I’ll tell you what I originally thought what made a real writer. I used to think I could never call myself truly a writer until I had at least one story published. Even when it happened I changed the definition to “Oh, I’m not really a writer until I can make a steady income and publish novels.”
I’m not quite sure how detrimental this has been to my growth. I think it has at the same time pushed me and saddened me when I think about how either of those things may not happen. I’m still relatively young so realistically both things are very possible. I’m sure as I continue on along this journey I’ll be revising my definition of a real writer. Or perhaps I’ll just throw such a thought out the window and be kinder to myself. To realize that yes, I am a writer. A flesh and blood writer who should keep going on, and to stop trying to define something with no true definition.