Are You a Writer?

When do you know that you are –really– a writer?

When you see a picture of your book on Amazon?

When you win a writing award?

When you actually hold your first published article in your actual hand?

When you get your first fan letter?

When wikipedia decides that you are “notable”

When you read a glowing review of your book?

When you pull out a special pen and sign your first autograph?

When you are asked to give a keynote address at a writers’ award ceremony?

When you see people sitting around reading something you wrote?

When Oprah picks your book for the book club?

I’m thinking that it’s possible to have all that going for you and still have doubts. ‘Because each one of those things depends on someone else deciding who you are on the inside. And if somebody can give you that identity, then someone else can take it away. If a good review makes you a good writer, what happens when the review is bad? If an agreeable publisher or a happy fan or an enthusiastic radio interviewer can define you, what happens when things are disagreeable, unhappy, and bland? So how about this instead:

If you can lose yourself for an hour or more writing and rewriting a single paragraph, you are a writer.

If your day feels fuzzy and your brain feels foggy until you’ve had a chance to write, you are a writer.

If you don’t know what you think until you see what you wrote, you are a writer.

If office supplies make your eyes sparkle, and a sharpened pencil and a fresh pad of paper give you a thrill, you are a writer.

If you have ever hugged your moleskin journal and sighed contentedly, you are a writer.

If you have little scraps of paper and a very odd assortment of pens squirreled away in every corner of your house, you are a writer.

If you find yourself staying up way past your bedtime because the muse won’t let you go, you are a writer.

If you have ever rudely interrupted a friend by saying, “Wait. Just a minute. If I don’t write this down now, I will lose it,” you are a writer.

Or this: If you know what it means to push words around on a piece of paper until (ah!) something clicks into place and settles in your soul, you are a writer.

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