Recently, I was reading a post on HarsH ReaLitY, a blog by a self-titled opinionated man, in which he poses the question, what does it mean to “be a writer”? An age old question, is it not, especially for those of us who have yet to have our work validated by traditional publishing venues which raises another: is that validation necessary to call oneself a writer?
My answer is no. A writer is one who writes regularly and with intention, one who cannot not write. When you feel something missing when you have gone too long without putting pen to paper and feel unaccountably agitated after several days without writing, you are a writer. If writing connects you to your soul and makes you feel whole, you are a writer. What it takes to be a writer, is writing. Sit down and write, regularly.
Of course in our modern age replete with alternative publishing venues, it is easier to “be published,” one might argue. This blog itself is a form of publishing. Yet, many (most?) still aspire to the golden ring of traditional publishing and hesitate to call ourselves writers until it is grasped. But, consider this, would you call Emily Dickinson are writer? I certainly would. She is poet par excellence, yet her own time rejected her poems. The few that were published appeared without her name and probably without her approval. Those she did send out intentionally were rejected. And yet she wrote, and wrote, and wrote. And then she sewed them up into little booklets and put them in a drawer. She was a writer.
Sure, Dickinson wished for that external validation as much as any of us (and feared it as well), but the lack thereof did not stop her flow of words. Neither should it ours. We should keep on writing and call ourselves writers. And let us acknowledge that we are published when we share our words on our blogs. Nine Cent Girl has an excellent meditation on this (Another Anniversary!). These alternate venues are real publishing because our words are shared. Ultimately we write to be read, to communicate; through our blogs we are, we do. We are luckier than Emily in that respect, and in the comment section too, where the world can respond.
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,–
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!