My writing partner came up with this topic, and I had a real, “Huh?” moment. I think the reason for my momentary doubt was the question, “What does being a writer feel like?”
Which led to serious contemplation over my morning grapefruit.
While writers are a specific designation, like say, artist, there are subcategories of writer that can’t be ignored. Just as there are painters and sculptors, there are non-fiction authors, poets, and genre authors. Each of these types of writers have differing views on what a writer is.
However, on the other side of the looking glass, there are people who are not writers. And here’s where I felt like a writer – when being a writer made other people uncomfortable. Where people discounted my dreams because they involved being published. That’s when I felt like a writer – misunderstood, unappreciated and belittled.
Then why on Earth would you ever want to feel like a writer?
After several false attempts, I managed to get into a writing group with two highly talented writers. I had known both of these women for over fifteen years, but for the most part we were only just emerging to the public as writers. We got to work with a will, creating a format, cribbing from other groups we’d seen but didn’t fit into, and just generally having an idea of what we wanted for our group.
That group lasted a whole year, and we were quite pleasantly surprised. In a daring move, we even invited a new member to our sacred space.
Our writers group became that place, that safe spot where we could talk about all the little details that go into making a book great. We’d read each other’s work and critique it. We didn’t just hand it back with an, “It’s good.” We got nitty and gritty and worked to tell each other what was wrong, but in a way that wasn’t combative or rude.
This is what it feels like to be a writer, the way I think of it. Being part of a community that works to help improve both our work and others work. Being able to make jokes about font or grammar or characters who aren’t acting as expected. I’ve explained it this way before; if you knit, I will appreciate the scarf or the socks or the hat that you show me, but I don’t want an explanation as to the pattern, the type of yarn, or what sized needles you used to make it. I understand that most readers won’t actively map the character arc, or compare and contrast the hero with the villain. That’s my job. To tell you a good story.
Writers gotta write. You know if you’re a writer, because you know exactly what it feels like to be a writer. And that’s why we’re here, to help writers find their way to telling their stories.