Really A Writer

I’ve been trying since I posted that first post to come up with something brilliant and impressive and insightful, but so far I’ve got nothing. I think it’s because I’m afraid. What do I have to offer the all-knowing Internets? Nothing you guys can’t already google. Nothing brilliant writers and teachers haven’t already said in a hundred better ways than I could. I want to post about writing, but what do I know? Am I really a writer? When do you give yourself that title, “Writer,” like it’s your official job? When do you know?

At first I think I was waiting for someone to walk up, shake my hand, and say in a game-show announcer voice, “You’ve completed steps A, B, and C! Congratulations, Writer! You are X amount of years from a publishing contract!” Then there would be confetti and applause and I’d cry and wave and run around shrieking, “I knew it! This is my DESTINY!”

Yeah, right. When we first start out, there isn’t any external validation. That’s part of why being a writer is so hard. It’s all you with that blank screen, watching the cursor blink, blink, blink like it’s tapping its tiny virtual foot. How are you supposed to know if you’re any good? Yeah, mom and friends will tell you that you are, but I’ve never really believed them.

Then I realized: it doesn’t matter how good I am. What matters is that I write and I love it. I get a thrill from making things up in my head and putting them on paper. For a long time I told myself that I don’t have to do this. I can quit writing anytime, and if it doesn’t work out I won’t be devastated. That’s a lie. I’m a writer because it makes me happy, because I write so much that the keys on my keyboard are worn smooth, and because I want to be.

What do you think? What makes a person a writer? On a related note, when can someone call themselves an author?

About Caitlyn McFarland

Mom of three girls, writer of fantasy novels.
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8 Responses to Really A Writer

  1. Your Mother says:

    I’m not going to leave you a comment because you wouldn’t believe me! Lol!

  2. Kimberly says:

    Different writers define things differently, and I’ve heard a LOT of definitions over the years. But my personal view of it is this . . . if you love to write, if you NEED to write, you’re a writer. If you complete a book, you’re an author. If you have a head and heart full of stories, you’re an author for life.

    I have a feeling you’re all the above. And while you may not have a game show announcer confirming that this is your destiny, the burning need to write tells you that this is a God-given talent, and something that you really are meant to do.

    And some chick in Canada is here to tell you that you are GOOD. I know that’s a hard thing to believe about yourself, and I feel like a hypocrite when I encourage you to believe it since I don’t believe it when people say it to me, but seriously. If nothing else, let the fact that I am a lazy, self-indulgent woman help convince you. Because I don’t read blogs much. And I don’t email much. And there are only about five people in the whole word that I bother doing critiques for. AND YOU ARE ONE OF THEM. I don’t give time to stories I don’t love to read, and I was seriously up an extra half hour last night, reliving your story in my mind, playing it like a movie on my mental cinema, cursing over the fact that it’s To Be Continued at the moment.

    You’re a writer, Caitlyn. And a pretty fabulous one, at that. =)

  3. Jewels says:

    It took me a long time to embrace that title. What really did it for me was Stephen King’s book. Dang! I can’t remember the quote, but it changed how I saw myself.
    As for calling yourself an author, is that any different from ‘writer’? You’ve finished a couple books,and you’re amazingly talented, so claim it!

    • Thanks Julie! Was it in On Writing? I’ve never read it, but I’ve heard it’s so good! I just have a hard time calling myself “author” when I’m not published. I’m no more talented than anyone I critique for!

  4. Sleepy Joe says:

    Ok so I’d like to all you friend but in reality we have barely met so I don’t know if that makes my opinion more believable or not! There are very few authors who have captured my attention and heart, and yes I am still running those chapters throughout head! The authors that have – JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Paulo Coelho…maybe one or two more!

    You are a writer, author, spinner of a glorious new world I want to jump into. Believe in you, says the girls who doubts herself!

    We don’t write for the money or the credit, granted they’d be nice, we write because we have no choice, something in us has to come out and I am sooo eternally grateful that you allow yours to spill in my direction!!!

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