When Did the Realization “I Am a Writer” Hit?

The title of this bloggery is the topic of a discussion on Facebook hosted by Christine Husom, a fellow Second Wind author. My response was:

The realization that I am a writer hasn’t hit, and I’m not sure it will. I’m very involved with writing — I belong to various groups; I talk a lot about writing; and even when I’m not writing creatively, I’m writing: blogs and articles, comments and emails. But I don’t define myself as a writer. When you consider all that being a published writer entails — promotion, engendering good will, etc — writing is a small very small part of the whole.

Of course, when I’m accepting the Nobel Prize for literature a dozen years from now, perhaps then the realization will hit. (You do know I’m joking, right?)

A few people responded that of course I was a writer, and they are right — I do write, therefore I am a writer. I even have two books published. But the question was: when did the realization hit? And it never did. My journey to becoming a writer was a long, smooth (or almost smooth; let’s just forget about those 200+ rejections) journey from first draft to second, from second draft to edits, from edits to proof to copy-edits, from proof to finished book. I saw so many copies of my proofs that when I received the final book, it never struck me as being different from the proofs I’d struggled over. Even the demarcation between being published and not being published was smeared. A month or so before A Spark of Heavenly Fire and More Deaths Than One showed up in print, I noticed that they were available from Second Wind Publishing as ebooks. I don’t know how long they’d been on the site, but their availability made me a published author, and I wasn’t aware of it.

I’m sure if I was making a living off my writing, I’d define myself as a writer. And if I won the Nobel Prize, I might. But still  . . . I blog more than I write creatively, but I don’t call myself a blogger. I promote more than I blog, but I don’t consider myself a promoter. I sleep more than I promote, but I don’t call myself a sleeper. (Though some people might.)

But how I define myself isn’t the question. The question is: When did the realization “I am a writer” hit?  And my response holds true. I never did have that realization.

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14 Responses to “When Did the Realization “I Am a Writer” Hit?”

  1. caleb fox Says:

    Realization? Well, the first hint that I wanted to write came when I identified with Clark Kent more than with Superman. Hey, writing for a newspaper, that looked cool (and it was, for a while).

    Until I got a full-time job writing, I was still torn half and half between writing and playing music. And even then the job was writing about music. But going out to concerts every night took away the playing time, and…

    By the way, Pat, we know you’re NOT kidding.

  2. Pat Bertram Says:

    Caleb, I didn’t want to sound arrogant, so I added the disclaimer, but you’re right, I wasn’t totally joking.

  3. Suzanne Francis Says:

    In my case I think I believed it when I had to fill out a form listing my occupation, and I had written “Writer” without even really thinking about it. This was some time after my first book was published.

  4. Marian Youngblood Says:

    Pat: the realization may never hit: that’s the irony of the self-delusion, the self-concealment, the very essence of being the ‘observer’ who writes. I think this is true, whether we are a journalist reporting, an author telling the tale, a non-fiction writer transmitting an account. Maybe that’s the beauty of it: that we are intrinsically observing from a perspective which never allows us to be what people want us to own up to: i.e. what we ‘do’. You said it best. But thanks that my little tuppenceworth inspired you a smidgeon for today’s blog: as I said on another site: you inspired me to blog; I am just practising a little before I hit wordpress proper! Bless U.

  5. Sarah Butland Says:

    It dawns on me that I’m a writer when someone experienced as a writer enjoys my work and tells me so. Although I’ll never fully comprehend all of the hardships of being a writer until I struggle to do it full time, I become giddy when a best selling, well known or simply very experienced author compliments my work. That’s got to be one of the best feelings a writer can ever experience.

  6. Pat Bertram Says:

    Marian, this is an astute comment, and perhaps explains why the realization that I am a writer hasn’t hit: Maybe that’s the beauty of it: that we are intrinsically observing from a perspective which never allows us to be what people want us to own up to: i.e. what we ‘do’. I hadn’t considered the observer aspect of being a writer. The observer merely observes and records. It isn’t necessarily self-aware.

    When you do start blogging in ernest, be sure to let me know so I can add your blog to my blogroll.

  7. Pat Bertram Says:

    Suzanne, that must have been an enlightening experience, to list your occupation as writer without even thinking about it. I’ve heard that to be a real writer, one has to have written over a million words. Until then you’re just an amateur (even if one is published). You’ve written that many words by now, haven’t you? I’m still at the halway point.

  8. Pat Bertram Says:

    Sarah, very few writers ever get to experience what it’s like to write full time, but I hope you manage to achieve that goal. And when you do, be sure to let us know what it’s like!

  9. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Yes, I’m over a million by now. 999,000 of them are crap. 🙂

  10. Pat Bertram Says:

    Suzanne, They never said the words had to be good ones, just that there had to be over a million of them.

  11. Sheila Deeth Says:

    All those forms that ask “occupation” – especially internet forms… I used to write in “mother” when I could, considering it a fallacy to suggest I married a house. Then they invented “homemaker.” Is that like a builder with spiritual aspirations? These days I put “unemployed” or “homemaker” depending on how I feel. And I apply for jobs, and try to get published, while dreaming that maybe I’ll put writer on the form before I have to put “software engineer” instead.

  12. June Bourgo Says:

    I just remembered a writer who writes articles about historical buildings etc. He wrote an article for a newspaper and later was put into a book, about a historical building my husband and I owned at the time. It was creative nonfiction and well-written. In it, he called me a writer, who was writing a novel and worked part-time as a physio clinic manager. I felt like a fraud and asked him to change it around to read that I was a physio clinic manager who was writing a novel. For all of my words to Pat that she was a writer because she writes, I didn’t apply it to myself. I just read on another blog that if we are human we are insecure (something like that). We do do numbers on ourselves.

  13. Pat Bertram Says:

    Sheila and June — perhaps in the end it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we realize we are writers or not. All that matters is that we write.

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