I'm a writer; I'm tired of defending this simple fact to myself and to others. I'm tired of tweets and blog posts and snark about how there are so-called legitimate writers and then the rest of us poor schmucks who aren't worthy of the title. I'm tired of clamming up every single time someone asks me what I do. The instant, overwhelming shame I feel as I choke on three seemingly simple words: I'm a writer.
To answer a few of your implied questions:
I do not have a swanky office.
I do not have an agent.
I do not have a degree from a prestigious college.
I do not get paid to write in any capacity.
Yet, still, I am a writer.
A writer isn't defined by money or deals or popularity. When you look up writer in the dictionary, it doesn't say a person whose written words are published. A writer is defined simply as one who writes.
I don't have to write in a fancy office or have an agent or be rich and popular to be a writer. I simply have to write. And, to boil it down even further, I don't even have to be good at writing.
My favorite definition goes a little something like: a writer is a person who writes.
It doesn't even say a person qualified to write or a person who went to a fancy college and got a degree that says they are allowed to write. It says a person who writes. Period.
There are no wannabe writers. You either write or you don't. Just like there are no wannabe singers or doctors or mechanics. You either do these things or you don't.
There are good writers and terrible writers and okay writers. There are writers who work tirelessly to hone their craft and others who don't. There are writers seeking publication and writers on the best sellers list and even more with secret novels hidden in their closet. We come in all shapes and sizes. Some writers make money and some garner fame and some carry on writing without any accolades.
Thus, a writer is a person who writes. A person with a passion for words and a desire to put them down on paper. It's the act of creating a story, building a world, immersing oneself in a reality that belongs to no one else but you.
Maybe, if we all stopped trying to define writers by money and fame and book deals, we could weed out a little of the jealousy and hate being flung around between wannabes and the real deals and get down to being a community of people who geek out over things made of words.
For those who feel I'm being obtuse, that I'm oversimplifying what a writer is, understand I do know the difference between an author (a writer with published works) and a writer (a person who writes). By definition these are two vastly different terms. One, I claim to be. One, I aspire to be.
Maybe the real issue is we all need to pull out our dictionaries and understand the subtle differences between these two words.
Better yet, maybe we all need to get over ourselves and realize no matter what stage of the game we happen to be in writing is hard, yo.
From fanfic to blogging, from published to self-published, and all those on the sidelines with big dreams, we writers are all just writers. For good or for bad, we've got to deal with this fact, show each other a little more grace and respect, and get on with writing and reading and dreaming.
It's for the greater good. I promise.