On Naming Yourself: The Space Before Publication

catwindows 003A “writer” is one of those terms that doesn’t have a clear qualification.

In some contexts, being a writer can mean the poet who writes for hours a day at school or the author writing the third book in a trilogy before the deadline. It requires no specific qualifications, and as a term, may not require a completed piece of work. It is a word differently defined depending on who uses it, and in what circle.

In the realm of novelists aspiring to be paid for their books, calling yourself a writer before you have any publications can be an odd feeling; for you and for those you tell. The terms ‘author’ or ‘novelist’ may equally have their own expectations attached.

Yet every writer in the world, at one point, did not have any work published.

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After five years of focused story-writing, I had my first two short stories published in 2015 and 2016.

I still consider myself in the early stages: Working on my twelfth novel attempt, I have four completed, edited manuscripts which I love. They’re not all ready to be sent into the world; but they’ve survived at least a first-pass edit and are with beta readers. I’ve attended three conventions, using my title as a “writer” to introduce myself. I’ve been paid for my writing.

Thus, things are moving, but it’s a slow process.

Thinking of writing as my second job motivates me to write even after a tiring time at my day-job. However, it also means I see social media like twitter and this blog as a ‘business platform’ as much as a journal of my writing process. I read a lot of writer’s blogs, but when it comes to post here, I sometimes find myself uncertain of a topic.

A lot of advice for writers focuses on marketing your book, on the revision process, on making sure you have a twitter, facebook and a blog for your writing. On just writing, every day.

But in that space before publication; when you want to share the things you’re learning but feel that someone else already said this, or that you have nothing of value to say, it can be tricky to balance that title of ‘writer’ with those fears we call ‘Imposter Syndrome’. The inner voice talks about worth and ‘real’ writing.

In that moment, the key is to keep going.

Which ever writer you can think of who appears more “real” than you – they were here once.

How do you refer to yourself when discussing your writing? 

Have you ever felt the need to defend yourself in using that term?

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