When Can I Call Myself a Writer?

penulis = writer

Labels are such interesting little buggers.  Those simple words, either self-applied or applied by others that seem to form our self-concept and either expand or limit how we see ourselves.

I recently had someone refer to me as a writer. It gave me pause, as I have not thought of myself that way.

Until my husband left, I never wrote anything that wasn’t assigned by a teacher or professor. I suppose I was okay, but I never felt compelled to write and certainly never had a passion for it. As soon as he left, I purchased a spiral notebook and a green pen (the green was very important at the time). And I began to write. The writing was purgative, words never meant to be seen by another. However, I was putting pen to paper under my own volition. Is one a writer by act regardless of purpose or intended audience?

Was I a writer then?

In those early weeks, as I saw the shock and interest in the faces of the police and attorneys, I realized that this story needed to be told. The writing left the spiral notebook and went on a pilgrimage to the computer, where it began to be crafted into a book. Those words were only shared with a select few and were never fully formed into finished chapters. Is one a writer when crafting for an audience, even if imaginary and existing in some ambiguous future?

Was I a writer then?

Almost two years went by without much progress on the book. As I felt driven to write again, I decided to start this blog. Apparently people read it. Did I become a writer when my words were posted in the public domain?

Was I a writer then?

Now, I have been published in the Huffington Post. Let me pause here for a brief interlude. Oh. My. God. I am in the Huff Post. Deep breath.  So.  Freakin.  Surreal.  Okay, now I can continue. Does being asked to contribute to a major publication make one a writer?

Am I a writer now?

At some point, I would love to be paid to write. Is receiving remuneration for authorship services required of one who is designated as a writer. In other words, does the IRS need to see me as a writer in order for me to qualify?

Will I be a writer then?

How about when my book is completed and published (hey, now, I’ve got to dream big!!)?

Will I be a writer then?

It is strange how writing has permeated my life these last three years when it has been all but absent for the previous 31 (okay, so I actually couldn’t write for the first few of those…). I spend time every day mentally composing and then crafting posts. I enjoy the process of writing and I love hearing feedback from those who read my words. Writing has become a way to reflect and to share.  It is now both purgative and restorative.  At this point, it has become part of who I am.  I feel like I’ve embodied its spirit to the point where I cannot imagine its exit from my life.  I think that is what makes me a writer.


22 thoughts on “When Can I Call Myself a Writer?

  1. Interesting post. I’ve been reading tomes by the best writers since I was a wee lad of 3, etc.

    You’re a writer of the first water mon ami. It is my privilege to read your writing and ever so beneficial.

    Old Bill wrote once that when a certain party spoke people applauded but when another person spoke, people took action. Your writing is powerful to move people to action, especially in moving ahead with their lives. Kudos to you. Amazing that your writing span is a few years. Great that you love writing. We are your beneficiaries. 😀 If it were possible, I would stand atop my monitor and fist pump salute you with a smile only matched by the one when Metallica played Enter Sandman to a sea of Russkis. Thank you Lisa. We are enriched with your writing. You are a Writer.

  2. to me, a writer is someone who writes originally, produces a piece, and can show it to people without fear…I think that’s when a person can be named a “writer”…a writer is not simply someone who writes…although i hear that alot…so not true -_-

  3. This had me Google the definition of a writer if you’re interested:

    1-A person who has written a particular text.
    2-A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.

    These were the first two definitions that came up. I don’t think that #1 is specific enough because then pretty much every school assignment, etc. would mean everyone is a writer. But your blog definitely counts as #2, even if it isn’t currently a paid occupation. And “blogger” is just a more specific type of writer (poet, journalist, technical writer, so many different types)-the quality of a blogger can vary just as in any occupation. I think we are aware of the bloggers that never post anything original, whereas yours is very original, and certainly why you have such a following. You obviously spend a lot of time thinking about yours!

  4. You are a writer because 1) you put your heart and soul into your thoughts and 2) you affect other people through your words. To me, the dry definitions above cannot describe what it is to be a writer. It is like, for example, scuba diving – which I have done – or parachuting, which I have not. I have felt closer to the universe and a part of something bigger than myself in the water as I have mastered the tools and skills required to get to that place; whereas I am still afraid of jumping from airplanes so would feel inadequate to describe the joys of leaping into the sky and plummeting towards earth. You have worked out how to express yourself through the medium of words and spread your wisdom to others, you are deep in the waters. So you have become a writer in the transcendent sense. As a small child who learns to express inner feelings and wisdom through words can be a writer, the most skilled facilitator of words may fail (in my opinion) if they cannot connect with the deeper truths of mankind.

  5. Okay here I go…I believe you are a writer when you begin to think about it…I know everyone says you have to have it written out somewhere, but I do most of my writing and editing in my head…by the time it gets to the screen I am 90% done.

    The hard part is getting my wife to understand that the last 30 minutes I have spent staring out the window, not moving a muscle, I was actually working…lol.

    Be encouraged!

  6. I think if people read what you’ve written then you must be a writer….does it have to be a book of the best selling variety for someone to be a writer? Anyway I know that writing is a very good ….no excellent!! therapeutic tool. It just takes all the power out of all those words that were whirling around in my head ….. cos now it’s all down on paper and or floating around in cyber space. Thanks again for a lovely post. Keep up the good work and to heck with all those critics in the Huffington Puffington Post! You know the old saying about walking a mile in another persons shoes……..

  7. “A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.” Maya Angelou

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