Ah, to be a writer. What does it take, and how do you know if you have it? When do you cross over from being an aspiring writer, to a real writer? When do you become comfortable calling yourself a writer? Can you look someone in the eye and say with confidence, “I am a writer!”?
I am 42 years old, and I have been writing since I was a child. I still have the first poem I wrote when I was 7. It was about flowers. I now have an entire six-foot shelf of 3-inch binders containing my writings for the past 35 years. I have chronicled my life by writing poetry, prose, journal work and essays. By the simple measure of time and space, I guess you could call me a writer.
I also belong to a book club, a writers’ group, and the National League of American Pen Women, all of which meet monthly. In the book club we get together because we like to read good literature. The writers’ group meets to share its writing, to network, and to support each other. The Pen Women is a professional group of artists, musicians and writers, and I am proud to be included. Judging by my mere associations, I guess you could say I am a writer.
It is, of course, every writer’s dream to be published. We tend to measure our success by whether or not we have been published, and we spend a lot of time and energy working toward this fantasy. I have my share of rejection letters, but my own personal dream of getting published finally came true, and I am happy to say that I have been paid and published several times. So I suppose by most industry standards, getting paid and published would be the mark of a true writer.
But for me, what really defines a writer is the simple and basic need to write. It is a primordial instinct. I write because I was born this way. I write because I have to. Not for money or notoriety, and not for the accolades. I write whether anybody reads it or not. I carry a pen and paper with me at all times, and my only goal is to keep writing, and maybe perhaps improve. Writing defines me, and I express myself best through the written word. Writing is my past, my present, and my future. Writing is also my friend. Because I can’t imagine my life without writing, I guess I must be a writer.
Written by Susan
Copyright 1999, All Rights Reserved
Published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune
March 8, 2003