Today I was reading Janet Reid's most recent post, Less than Zero, she railed about a person whom she had met at a conference who referenced himself as not being a "real writer" because his novel was published through one of those "book printing mills." I'm not sure if he's referencing self-publishing, vanity publishing or what here, but the point is that because he wasn't published by a larger, traditional publisher, he felt that he didn't qualify as a "real writer" yet, even though he'd written and published a whole novel!
I love Janet's response: "Don't let anyone, particularly some snotty so-called publishing professional, demean this achievement. You've written a novel = you're a writer."
The reason this particular post struck me was because too often the online blogosphere (and real world) devolves into negativity. Writing is TOUGH world; anyone reading this blog knows that. Sometimes, traditionally published writers or publishers will tear down self-published writers as a whole. Because there is a lot of poor writing that gets self-published, they'll stereotype all self-published writers as second-rate writers- even in the midst of this ever-changing publishing world! Sometimes, you'll see people who have written and published a novel saying that you're not really a writer until you've published something in some form.
Here's food-for-thought: Emily Dickinson published NO poems during her lifetime. None. Nada. Nil. She wrote poems for herself, shared some with family or friends, and after she passed away, her neatly-written and bound collections were found, and the world discovered this now canonical writer. Was she a writer before she was published? If a tree falls in the world and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? I say YES!
If you write regularly, whether for private or public consumption, for free or for profit, if you love fluent, concise, florid, creative, or purely functional words, and you try to create your own fluent, concise, florid, creative, or purely functional words, you ARE a writer!
And if someone wants to nitpick with you before you've been published, traditionally published, or met some other goal that hangs menacingly over your head threatening to validate or invalidate your status as a writer, remember Richard Bach's words, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.”
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