When do you think one has the right to say “I’m a writer”? Once they are published? Once they get paid for writing? Once they do it regularly?
I didn’t feel for a long time that I was allowed to say I was a writer even though I’ve been writing since I learned the letters. The books came first of course but it didn’t take long to realise that like Adrian Mole I can also keep a diary that might, one day, prove to be entertaining to someone else. It has always been about connecting to others in ways that face-to-face conversations didn’t allow.
In consideration of my future readers I spent a whole summer at the age of 12 practising my handwriting because I deemed the one I had too childish. I also started experimenting with poems fairly early but it took me until my friend showed me her poems in grammar school to realise that they don’t always had to rhyme. That opened up a while new beautiful world. Did I become a writer then?
At uni I really enjoyed the written assignments and while others found the process of writing a thesis painful, I enjoyed it so much I wrote one for money for someone else, too. (Not exactly legal but needed the money.) So technically I was paid for writing – did I become a writer then?
I tried to take up jobs that included writing in some form: manuals, presentations, trainings, reports – I enjoyed them all the same. But it took me years until I had the courage to write a story on paper. I had lived with them all my life, imaginary friends, made-up stories but mostly fractured scenes not a cohesive plot. I understood them but it didn’t let me connect to the others like I had wanted. Would you call me a writer then?
It feels like I have only just started. I still haven’t finished writing a whole novel. I have tried my hands on scriptwriting which is also a lot of fun and whole different craft. I still love the shorter forms: stories, blog posts, and have a lot to learn about essays.
I dream about having to do nothing but writing all day, every day. Of losing myself in the flow, in finding the right words, the right actions, the right story. That’s why I’m taking English Composition with Coursera to learn more about the craft and its elements.
Question to readers: are you yourself a writer? Why or why not?