Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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When can you start saying ‘I’m a writer’?

The other week on my regular Friday links list, I included a post by John Grant (aka realthog ) called There Are Far Too Many “Writers”.

It’s an interesting article (the subsequent comments make for good reading too). John, who has around seventy author/editor credits to his name, makes the valid point that the phrase “I’m a writer” doesn’t mean what it used do.

Twenty years ago, nobody would answer “I’m a writer” with “Are you published?” John’s absolutely right, the phrase doesn’t mean what it used to, and people like me are partly to blame.

I’ve been telling people I’m a writer since 2007, when I began pitching
Fur-Face to agents. Back then, the only time I’d had my name in print was in March 1981, after I won the Record Mirror’s crossword puzzle, but I didn’t care. I considered myself a writer.

In January 2009, when I started posting here on Live Journal, I told people I was a writer, even though the only work I’d ever seen published was a non-paying piece about writing groups in a local free magazine and a handful of articles for the GSHW and Monmouth Creative Writing Group's newsletters. Nevertheless, I was okay with that. I considered myself a writer.

Today, I’ve had a few drabbles make it to online publications, got an honorable mention in a short story competition, appeared in a ‘Year’s Best’ anthology and seen a novel (the aforementioned Fur-Face) published in eBook format only by a small press. I understand that puts me about as low as you can get on the non-self-published author’s ladder, but I don't care.

I’ve considered myself a writer since the first time I pitched Fur-Face to an agent (albeit an undiscovered one).

“Now wait a minute,” some people might say. “Isn’t that a little dishonest?”

I don’t believe so. I don’t say it to impress anyone. I don’t claim or infer that I make a full-time living as a writer (something which many established authors can’t do in any case). It’s not about status, it’s about positive affirmation.

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re walking the walk ie: writing with a view to getting published and actually submitting stuff, I’d say you’re entitled to talk the talk. That’s why anyone who asks me what I do gets the same answer “I are a writer.”

That's my story and I'm sticking to it

How about you?

At what point in their career do you think it’s okay for people to call themselves a writer?

Tags: echelon press, fiction, fur-face, gshw, writing

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