A “real” writer?

A recent post on the Arkansas Women Blogger’s site from my friend Angie Albright of A Growing Season helped me realize and even admit something I’ve never really acknowledged before.

Until recently, I rarely, if ever called myself a writer.

When I was a reporter, people would call me a writer and I would correct them and say I was a reporter. It’s odd because I didn’t consciously think of myself as a bad writer. If I did, I don’t think I would have started blogging, continued working as a reporter or tried to get any other job that used my writing skills. I think deep down I thought of myself as someone who had writing skills, but that I wasn’t good enough to call myself a “writer.” I was simply a person who wrote.

Truth be told, I think a large part of this stems from the fact that I dealt someone in my life for eight years who berated, mocked and constantly criticized my work and the work of others. There is a major difference between constructive criticism and the hatefulness that was often spewed for many years. Although I told myself that person’s behavior was not fair, I think ultimately it bled into my consciousness. In my effort to try to improve, I think I took the comments too much to heart. I couldn’t measure up to an unhappy person’s standards of grammar, so that somehow made me not a writer.

The simple fact that I tell people something so simple as “I’m a writer” or that I put it in my tagline for this blog is a source of encouragement, of healthy pride for me. I have a skill and I’m OK with telling people that, with claiming it. I will still tell just about anyone that I stink at grammar, especially punctuation. But I’m a writer. I love expressing myself with the written word and I’m fairly adept at it.

What is a writer?

In Angie’s post, she talks about how bloggers are real writers, about how blogging is the platform that the writers use.

I love this part:

“My blog, on the other hand, and your blog, dear reader, is doing something. It’s communicating with people. We have something to say and for whatever reason, the blogosphere is where we find our voices every day.”

So what makes a writer? I have to admit that sometimes in my professional life I will hear people say “I have a passion for writing” or something similar when they are about to submit some written work and I know that immediately means I will have to do a lot of editing. Just because someone has a passion for something doesn’t mean they are very good at it or that they understand the nuances of writing for their given platform or audience. That takes skills, training and practice.

I don’t know if there’s a magic moment when someone can call themselves a writer. I don’t think that being published by someone other than one’s self is necessarily the litmus test, after all many writers don’t get paid or have their work published anywhere else but their own blog. But I also think that not everyone who puts words down on paper is a writer either. If that were true, then anyone who makes a grocery list would be considered a writer.

I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter, that it’s a definition that is not mine to decide.

All I know is this: I am a writer.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Yes! You are a writer! I wonder what it is exactly that makes so many of us reticent to utter those words. Why do I get choked up sometimes when I say it?

    Great post! I mean, if I do say so myself . . . 🙂

  2. Your associate of 8 years who berated, mocked and criticized was only one person with a very subjective opinion, nothing more. Most people who provide that type of ongoing feedback are usually jealous of your accomplishments and believe if they tear down your efforts it makes them somehow more important. The mere fact that you write, are published and have earned your living from your writing speaks to your ability and talent. It makes you more than a writer. You a professional writer, something to carry with pride.

  3. Jamie, I just found this because you were quoted by another who had read it. You had impact. Your words had impact. Perhaps that speaks for itself. Very nice post. And thank you for sharing from your own history. I hope whoever spoke those words to you is now out of your life.

    1. Thank you Dr. Margaret! She is definitely out of my life. She was toxic to everyone who worked there.

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