Sunday, 23 May 2010

You are a writer if you are writing

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But that's the simple truth. I've seen debates online where writers wonder if they should call themselves a writer if they haven't been published, or if all they've got to show for years of their lives is a pile of rejection emails/letters and files of stories/novels that no one seems to value. And they begin to feel that both they and their work are valueless! Being reminded of how many times JK Rowling had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected just doesn't do it for them any more.

'I'm not a writer! I've just been kidding myself!' they cry.

Well, I'm hearing you! Been there, done that, but there is a great Australian drinking song (we have plenty of these!), which goes 'I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down...' ad infinitum or ad nauseum (depending on your taste in music!). Love those fighting words. Words to live by if you're a writer. What brought this on? No, I haven't been drinking, I've been thinking! It's not midday yet!

I love Susan Breen's 'The Fiction Class', based on her work as a creative writing teacher in Manhattan. I was checking out her blog this morning and came across a wonderful interview with a fellow teacher/author Sonya Chung, who spurred me on to write my blog today. She says students always ask “When did you know you were a writer?” One of the best answers was: “You are a writer when you are writing.” No kidding. THAT is “how it feels” to be a writer.

I'll let Susan Breen be my inspiration today. She published her first novel after 25 years of marriage, 4 children and hundreds of rejections! I've got heaps of rejections to go yet!

Go writers!


  1. Writing, like all art forms is subjective.

    Some people hate Harry Potter. Needle in the eye kind of hate... (Pick me; I can’t stand that little twerp).

    That I dislike it doesn’t obviously devalue the work! Another person should never hold the power to pull apart your dreams so if you want to do something, the simple act of doing it makes it your reality!

  2. I'm no Harry Potter fan, just an example. It's better to make your own path than to follow another's, I agree. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I'm actually not a Twilight fan but that's neither here nor there, Stephanie Meyer was rejected a lot as well.

    I think Susan's right, you are a writer when you're writing. There's nothing more thrilling when you look up from your keyboard and realize two hours have flown by and you have 15 pages of manuscript that weren't there before. That's writing magic.

  4. I love that song! I have the version of Chumbawumba singing it.

    I'm about to query my FOURTH book to agents! I had no luck with the previous three, so here I am, getting back up again.

  5. If you are published, you are an author - but if you're writing, you are definitely a writer!

  6. Piedmont Writer: Yes, it surely is a thrill when it all comes together at the keyboard. Magic.

    Aubrie: Glad someone knows the song. I love it and it really does inspire me. All the best with the fourth novel query. Good things will happen if you go on believing in yourself and your work.

    L. Diane Wolfe: But published what? Novel only? Articles? Short Stories in a magazine? You probably mean just something big, right?

  7. Yep. I got a friend who persisted for twenty years before getting her first book published. It sure does take determination!

  8. yupper, great attitude!

    i've been writing for a long time, had tons of non-fiction published [part of my job at the time], still waiting to see if anyone will pick up my fiction...

  9. The Alliterative Allomorph: I'm sure timing has a lot to do with it, but we sure have to persist in this game. Twenty years is probably not as unusual as one would think.

    Laughing wolf, I hope you have the last howl and the publshers are biting soon...:)

  10. Who says you can't drink before midday? :P

    I totally agree, by the way. Now I have that Chumbawamba song stuck in my head!

  11. Couldn't agree more! So happy to find another Aussie writer, it's so difficult to come across any! Great post, looking forward to more!

    Kind Regards

  12. You're telling me about the Aussies! I'm mainly following English or Americans. Have recently found an Aussie and a New Zealander...

  13. You have the best attitude & I love that Aussie drinking song! (Idea: An article or even a book of these songs!)

    Rejection is part of it. It's like a test & you never know when you'll get accepted so you just keep on trying. Usually you get better. Plus, the rejections can lead you to write other stories...which may be accepted.

  14. Notesfromnadir: Thanks for your comments. Except for a few spectacularly talented people, writing needs to be improved all the time, and sending out and taking the knocks is what gets us to examine our work, and hopefully continue to improve...


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