Those labels defined not only who I was, but it described in a single word what I had achieved.
After graduation, I had to endure grueling oral and written tests to become registered. Then came an advanced degree and more arduous tests so that I could attach additional adjectives to my job description, and additional alphabets behind my name. It was the right of passage into ever-smaller clubs of achievement.
When I retired from pharmacy and decided to become a fiction writer, I thought I was done with labels. I looked forward to being “just a writer” and spending my days devoted to creating art with words. But reality crept back in and those pesky labels materialized again.
“What type of writer are you?” I was asked. “A novelist”, I answered. After all, I had finished a manuscript that people said was very good. That answer, however, gave the impression that I was published.
After attending a number of writing seminars and conferences, I realized that my answer gave the impression that I was an author (those pesky labels were showing up again!). I was told that I’m not an author until I’m published, that I’m only ASPIRING to be an author. That made sense, so I decided that I’d have to be happy with just the “writer” label on my business card until I finished, edited, “polished” and then published my manuscript.
One day someone said that I was only an ASPIRING writer because my manuscript was not ready for publication yet. So, in a few short months of my initial interaction with other writers, agents and publishers, I had been knocked down from novelist and author to someone who just ASPIRED to be a writer. I was moving backwards fast!
That was when I drew a line in the sand and said enough with the labels. I took a long, hard look at the footprint I was making in my writing career and asked myself a sobering question: “What was I?”
Was I nothing more than an enthusiast, someone just fascinated with writing, little more than a spectator or a collector? Was I just a collector of the stories written in my spare time and then locked away in a drawer? That didn’t fit my ambition. I was definitely past the hobby stage and beginning to think of writing as a potential business.
These days I don’t feel complete unless I manage to string some words together every 24 hours. My first manuscript has been professionally edited and has been praised for both story content and writing skill. I’m even beginning to fill what I call the “novel pipeline”, a second novel almost complete and two more outlined. I’m definitely not an ASPIRING writer. I’m simply a writer, like so many others who work hard every day to improve their skills and search for that publishing opportunity. I gave up the ASPIRING part a long time ago.
I’m still not published, but I have a manuscript that I’m proud of that will be published soon. It’s a mystery/suspense novel called Lethal Medicine, but I’ll talk more about that when the publication date gets closer. In the meantime, I’m simply a writer, and I’m looking forward to changing that title to an author in the near future.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!