Am I A Writer?

30 11 2014

All Work

“I’m a writer. You are a writer. Everybody writes.” ~ Anne Handley

Although I have been writing in one form or another for many years, I have never considered myself a “writer”. Part of my work in marketing every day is producing emails, website copy and social media content. And I have this silly little blog… but is it really “writing”?

As I’ve stated here many times, “Surround yourself with creative people.” It’s become my mantra, and if I ever muster up the courage it could be part of my first tattoo. I’ve been fortunate over the past two years to have met a lot of writers – authors who have a true commitment to the written word. They are artists who are true storytellers, some who I now call friends.

I’ve also attended conferences, workshops, book signings, and more than a few get-togethers in bars and restaurants. Besides the fun, I’ve used these opportunities to sponge whatever information and inspiration I could. And while I have always felt very welcome, my lack of cred certainly left me on the fringes.

That “cred” was my perspective of what goes into producing the written word – the hours, the research, the sweating over each syllable and turn of phrase. George Orwell said that “writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” I’ve always kept that in mind when reading a story. I continue to find myself in awe of the journey… going from the smallest spark of an idea to an actual novel.

I know a few people who are full-time authors, but most I’ve met are just like me – working people with families, bills and other responsibilities. Writing is not their primary source of income. Still, they produce novels and stories in varying frequency and with vastly different levels of success. But what most have in common is a strong desire to help and promote each other, and give back to the writing community space they occupy. And as I learn more about all of the things that must happen to get published, it seems that the writing is the easiest part.

short-story2-10af47pLast week I posted on Facebook and Twitter that I was proud of myself because “I was very productive, finally finishing a long term project.” Anyone that follows me on social media knows that I’m usually not that coy, but it was very personal. That project was a work of fiction, a short story that I have been writing – off and on – for about a year. A few weeks ago I had made a promise to myself that I would finish it by Thanksgiving, so I powered through for about eight hours last weekend and completed my first draft. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like much. But when I lifted my fingers from the keyboard after applying the last bit of punctuation to that last sentence, I will admit that I allowed myself some celebration… an actual yell and fist pump. The poor dog was very confused…

So what I have now is a story… clocking in at 9,651 words over forty-five pages. It’s been put away for now, and I think I will look at it again in a couple weeks. I’ve given it to a few select people and I’m looking forward to any feedback. I don’t know what is next… a second draft? A third? Maybe it will be published one day, or maybe it completely sucks. Clearly, I haven’t thought this through! What I do know is that now I have two more ideas and can’t wait to start again!

To be honest, I don’t think I have ever felt such a sense of accomplishment. It’s partly because I did what I set out to do – getting that spark of an idea out of my head and onto paper. I also experienced what I’ve always appreciated in others – sweating over each word and sentence of my own story. But mostly, it’s because when I finally finished that first draft and threw that fist pump on the air, I was a writer.

Yes, I am a writer. That’s cred, baby…