Monday, June 21, 2010

What Makes You Think You Can Do This?

So you want to write a novel. A rather ambitious endeavour if there ever was one. And what makes you think yours would be any better than all the millions upon trillions of books already out there? Surely you don’t expect to be in the same league as Margaret Atwood or J.K Rowling. What would you write about that would be interesting enough to get published and even if some editor thought there was potential, why would anyone read it?

I don’t actually hear these words on a regular basis because I tend to surround myself with like-minded people that are all struggling to do the same thing. That support is invaluable because they get it. Family and friends however, although they may try to appear supportive and interested in what you’re doing, allow something in their tone of voice or facial expressions to escape that seeps into the subconscious and eagerly plants that little seed of doubt that all writers already possess. Maybe it’s a smug, slightly condescending tilt of the head when they are telling someone else right in front of you that you’re an aspiring writer. What the hell is an aspiring writer? Isn’t a writer a writer as long as they write? The addition of the word aspiring to me conjures a mental picture of someone that is trying to write but the only measure to success is seeing your name in lights. Or on the front of a book. And I’ve seen my name on the front of a book, and I’ve been published. Am I still an aspiring writer? Are you damned to be called an aspiring writer until you finally make millions from the sales of your books, or at least a comfortable living? The word bothers me. As if the people that utter it, don’t really believe it’s possible. On the other hand, it could just be the negativity taking over and my perception of their intentions is a little skewed.

A common mantra that I have heard continuously over the years is” fake it until you make it”. Or something along the lines of if you envision it happening, it will happen. I spend a lot of time imagining finally getting that letter from a magazine that my story has been accepted for publication.  Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten acceptance letters, but they have always been for articles or book reviews. What I want is for it to be for a short story or a creative non-fiction piece or…a novel. And after the first one, they just start flowing in. It is probably a little delusional, a little misguided because even some of the more successful writers that I know, still get rejections from time to time. It’s all part of the process. Getting rejections in itself can be a good thing. Lately I have found myself feeling proud that I have gotten a rejection, because it means that I have actually been submitting stuff. I’ve actually been writing. Therefore, I think I am writer.

How do you define being a writer?


  1. i think I'm a writer because I couldn't quit. I mean, I can go whole weeks without writing, but it's always THERE. It's always part of what I'm thinking about

  2. I would say anyone who ENJOYS writing could call themselves a writer,even if they have never been published.If a writer's intention is to be published, and succeeds, I would say he/she is a successful writer.


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