What makes someone a writer?
Is it the fact that you’ve had something published? Does writing a novel make you a writer? Or, is it just the act of writing that makes someone a writer? Is being a writer different to being an author? (Going by the definition above, no, but the definition and peoples’ perception differ greatly.)
When I first started exploring fiction writing, this question preyed on my mind. All. The. Time. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably experienced something like this:
Q: Are you a writer?
Q: Would have I have read anything you’ve written?
THAT question. The one that sends self-doubt ricocheting through any writer’s fragile soul. The answer, which could be anything from “Probably not” to “I’m writing a novel”, or “I’m working on a short story”, rarely satisfies the asker.
I’ve always been a writer. I wrote children’s curricula for several years, which included writing stories, rhymes, and two plays. I’ve written training packages and compiled a book on the history of the local industrial area. I worked as a journalist and then an editor for several years, and written many feature articles for online and print magazines.
I’ve worked in publicity, PR and marketing, all of which involves writing and journalistic skills (knowing which questions to ask) … and then there’s the book reviewing, author interviews and my blog posts.
I’ve written poems and short stories. I’m 80,000 words into my novel, a contemporary fiction novel called Wherever You Go.
And I’m now a published author. I’ve had a short romance published, and another is due out in 2017. I’ve had one children’s book, My Silly Mum, published, and my second, Fergus the Farting Dragon is due in 2017.
I can’t imagine not writing. It’s always been part of who I am. I write every day, whether it’s a media release … a Facebook post for work … a blog post that’s in my heart … a book review …
Words mean a lot to me.
Not every writer publishes, whether by choice or circumstance. Not every writer is a novelist, poet or literary great. But they are still writers, whether it’s the girl writing in her journal for her eyes only, the blogger sharing opinions to an audience big or small, or the person who goes to writing courses in an attempt to improve their skills. They’re not people trying to be writers – they already are.
Not every writer desires their words to be heard or read. Not every writer has a novel in them. At its essence, writing comes from a desire to communicate, to express something in words. The audience is the second step. Not everyone needs or wants an audience, or is driven by the need to have their words heard and read by others. If you write purely for yourself, yes, you are still a writer.
Is everyone a good writer? That is another question.
It’s what I want to be. And from the moment I put myself out there, the moment I pressed ‘send’ on an email to a friend asking, ‘Would you read this?’, I opened myself to being judged.
To describe that moment as hard is an understatement. It was nerve-wracking. Excruciating. But, oh so necessary.
Not only did it allow me to own the title of fiction writer, to make myself accountable to the dream that lived inside me, but it allowed me to face my fears and self-doubt head on. It has allowed me to be true to myself instead of always waiting for ‘the right time’.
I’ve also been reminded that there is always something to learn. Lots of people are good writers. Not everyone is great. I know what I’m aiming for.
A former newspaper editor, journalist, children’s curriculum writer and magazine editor, Monique has had a varied career in writing. (Not to mention being a Family Day Care mother, a playgroup facilitator, a reception temp, administrative assistant, government administrative officer, marketing and media coordinator … all of which adds up to rich life experiences). In 2011, she set up a freelancing business from home, and created Write Note Reviews, a blog that celebrates her love of reading. In 2012, through her part-time work at Koorliny Arts Centre, she founded the successful Stories on Stage program, which features authors talking or being interviewed in a theatre setting.