Saturday, 8 June 2013

Mind the Gap...

‘What do you mean, you’re a writer?’ asked a fellow guest at a party. ‘How many books have you published?’


‘So you’re not a real writer then?’

‘I’ve had several stories published- ’

‘Well, they don’t count,’ he interrupted.

‘And some non-fiction articles-’

‘Ah yes, but do they earn you money?’

‘Yes.’ (True, although I didn’t add that several articles were for my local magazine and unpaid.)

My interrogator didn’t wait to hear more but stalked off under the impression that I was a liar and a fraud, because I wasn’t a REAL writer. I didn’t bother to pursue him to ask him why published stories didn’t count because I thought my time would be better spent turning him into a character for my next flash fiction although I do wish I’d asked him if he was a real reader. Presumably reading anything other than published books doesn’t count.

I wrote When Can You Call Yourself a Writer? a while back, but in spite of now being brave enough to call myself a writer, I’m discovering the gap, a veritable chasm, between calling myself a writer and other people calling me a writer.

I did have a moment’s glory when I met someone at a local event who, on hearing my name, said, ‘Oh, hello, I’ve read your articles.’

I wish I could tell you that he enthused over my informative, beautifully written articles and asked if I would consent to being interviewed on the BBC. But he didn’t because they were in that local magazine I mentioned and  it was only later that I realized he hadn’t even said if he thought they were any good.

Meeting fellow writers is balm to my soul. Whether part-time writers like myself or full timers who have published loads more than I have, far from considering me inferior because I'm not a ‘real writer’, they are generous with their encouragement and sometimes practical help too. The following blogs and websites of some writers I met this week, will give you an idea of what I mean.

Patsy Collins
Karen Clarke
Tracy Fells
Wendy Clarke
Helen Hunt
Alison Carter

Note to self: Repeat three times every morning ‘I’m Lindsay and I’m a writer…’


Joanna said...

I don't believe it has any significance to your writing whether other people call you a writer or not. You know you are. Other writers know you are. And all that matters anyway is that you write.
The lovely man who did the conveyancing when we bought a house was actually not a fully qualified solicitor, so his job title was something like legal executive. It couldn't have mattered less. He did the business for us and did it perfectly. Titles, labels and job descriptions are of lesser importance than being passionate about what you do.
The party guest you encountered was very rude. I wouldn't want him to be one of my readers!x

Wendy's Writing said...

Hi Lindsay - of course you are a writer! The Workshop was good fun and it was great to meet other writers I had only ever talked to on line. I shall now follow your blog.

Lindsay said...

And these encouraging comments bear out exactly what I said in my post. Writers unite!

Patsy said...

You ARE a real writer. Don't listen to anyone who says otherwise.

I expect that idiot would tell JK Rowling she wasn't a real writer because children's books don't count. Romance isn't 'real' writing either, nor fantasy and sci-fi or anything genre, according to some.