Am I a writer?

I know, that seems like a stupid question. After all I have written four novels since 2008. I have two novels released as podcasts, and another is planned for release this year. I have an ebook for sale that can be read on any ereader or computer that exists. So what am I doing asking if I’m a writer here on the website I use to promote my work?

The reason I’m pondering this question comes from a number of podcasts I’ve listened to recently. I have a few writing shows that are staples on my Zune, but I also subscribe to the meta feeds of most of the major podcast novelists out there. You know: Sigler, Lafferty, Sawyer, Lester, and a few others. Sometimes they release interviews and discussions about the craft of writing, and I find them all interesting.

Yet one concept that has crept up a time or two is the question: Who is a writer? Or rather, what is a writer? I have heard it said by some (and I’m not naming names here) that in order to truthfully wear the moniker of “writer,”  a person must be working toward a publishing contract and a full time writing career.

Thus is my conundrum born. To date I have been writing and podcasting mainly because I enjoy it, and to see what others think of my work. I’ve not done much of anything to find a contract with a publisher of any size. As I mentioned I do have Borrowed Time for sale as an ebook, but I’m not going to be replacing my day job income with that any time soon. So while my status may change in the future, up until now I’ve treated my writing as more of a hobby than a career. That being the case, do I deserve to call myself a writer? Does the term inherently include the connotation of a full-time career?

If I accept the judgement that if I’m not trying to achieve financial success through my writing I am not a writer, what should I call myself? A hack, scribbler, or word-slinger? If the W-word is off limits, am I allowed to use titles such as author or novelist? My head swimmeth!

In an attempt to answer this, let’s look at what I do with my little hobby here. In the last three years I’ve written three NaNoWriMo novels of 60-70k each. Last year I wrote another novel in addition to that. That alone is a labor of hours. The NaNo novels alone probably take around 60 hours each just to write.  I’m sure I probably spent at least twice that editing The Guerrilla Poet, and am well on my way to doing the same thing for Stolen Time.

I’ve put in the long hours writing and editing my work, just like any professional writer. I work on plot, characters, and theme. I try to improve what I create to make my stories constantly better. I have a backlog of novels to edit and to write. I’m starting to think about November and doing another NaNo novel this year. Even though I was considering sitting it out to get some editing done, I can hear it calling to me. Holy typewriters, Batman! I sound like a writer!

And a writer is what I consider myself. In my opinion there is no connotation in the W-word of professional status.  While it might be tempting for some to try to draw a distinction between those who get paid to put words on a page, and those of us who don’t, there really isn’t that much to separate us. If I’m sitting next to a bestselling author at Starbucks and we’re both writing, we won’t look much different in what we are doing (except he’ll have the expensive drink, and I’ll just be downing the plain-Jane coffee!)

So I’m standing up for all of the unpublished, unsigned hacks everywhere. The scribblers and bibblers who spend countless hours hunched over a keyboard or notebook and laying down phrase after phrase. Word-slingers who anonymously frequent coffee shops and libraries to inspire their muse. Take up your mantle and be proud! You are writers!

As am I.

I am a writer.

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