Fiction Fix Home Page

Current Issue

Masthead/
Contact us.

Article Archive

Writers' Guidelines

Subscribe

Privacy Statement

Advertisements

 

About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.

 

A Piece of My Mind: When do you consider yourself a writer?
    
Bennet Pomerantz

OKAY, which came first? The chicken or the egg?

It is an age-old question: when do you think you can consider yourself a writer? Is it when you wrote something, published something, or got paid for the final product? Mind boggling, I know!

I have wrestled with this issue many times myself on writers' panels and been in great debates with many writers, from Rebecca Ore and Alan Wold to Mike Allen and the late Hal Clement. My personal thoughts on this subject are: you are considered a writer when you write something and finish it, not publish it. You have vested yourself into the magic of words. You have vested your time in writing something that has meaning to you. Publishing is still very important. However, the idea of finishing a piece of work is an awe-inspiring feat for anyone. Many writers have false starts of their supposed "Great American Novel," which lies dormant in a file cabinet with old business records and tax returns, just gaining dust. So finishing the work is very important as a goal.

However, I figured my opinion wasn't good enough for all of you. So I asked many people from the known to the unknown this immortal question. Here are their thoughts - some edited for space and/or content - but for the most part their words appear as written. This column and one other future column will be devoted to this topic . . . and maybe you can decide this issue for yourself! Note: I have left web sites, future book releases, and some writer's notes for some of these people, if you want to discuss their opinion or network with them.

I used to think that in order to be a writer it meant that you have had something published. I realize now that we are all writers in one way or another, although many of us do not realize this. I used to write when I was in high school but did not consider myself a writer. I just started writing again. The difference is that now I consider myself a writer. I am able to write about my life's experiences, my children, and my business. I have not had anything published and I do not know if I ever will, but that does not matter to me because I know that someday the important people will read what I have written and those people are my children. ~Lisa J. Noel [Writer's note: Lisa has some outstanding works including one about hurricane Ivan which she has been trying to get published . . . It is amazing to read her stuff. I do hope she publishes soon.]

I believe you are a writer when you glue your butt to a chair and stay there, and you do this on a regular basis, whether or not you publish, because you love to write. I believe you are a writer when you don't brag about being a writer, but when asked, you proudly admit you are a writer-published or not published. I felt like a writer when I received my first rejection.  ~AngelFuror

Since writing is my passion, I believe I always knew in my heart I was a writer, but it wasn't until I was invited to a writer's workshop conducted by Mr. Bennet Pomerantz [Writer's note: these are her words, not mine-but thanks Mel] that I discovered I truly was a writer and needed to share my inspirations. ~Melody Ravert, author of Shadow of Death and Avenging Sword (www.mysticrose.us) [Writer's note: Melody is a marvelous Christian fiction writer, worth checking out her books...also she writes under the pen name of Ashley Katz.]

At forty-one years of age, I returned to college to attempt a creative writing degree. I had been a bookkeeper/secretary who could write the best business letter a boss ever sent out. My friends and family often asked me to write a poem for their business or special occasion cards. I was happy to oblige. Also, being a voracious reader and former community theater actress, I always dreamed of being a writer. After journaling and writing essays for an audited English Comp class at the local college campus, an English professor told me I was a writer. Not my mother or my best friend being polite after reading one of my stories or poems, but a real, honest-to-goodness college professor was telling me I WAS A WRITER! Validation. That was it for me. I'm proud to say I've published several creative nonfiction essays (some for money, some for copies) and a poem was accepted for an anthology (and I didn't have to buy the book!).  ~Sandra Chapman

I felt like a writer when . . . I saw my first byline in a publication. ~Dena Dyer www.denadyer.com (Author, Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms (Barbour, now available at your local bookstore), Co-author, The Groovy Chicks' Road Trip (TM) to Peace (Cook Communications, May '05)

Responding to your question (and ignoring the typo), here's when I knew I could consider myself a writer--In 1980, I bought my first computer, to use as a word-processor. I had to take out a three-year bank loan, with stock certificates as security, because banks didn't consider personal computers to be sufficient collateral. Once I had it, though, I was able to write, edit and print much more quickly than I could with a typewriter. I could also, and easily, rewrite articles, adapting them for different markets, and thereby multiply my sales. It was so valuable a tool that I was able to pay off that three-year loan in just 13 months. There is a famous English one-act play by Phillip Barrie (of "Peter Pan" fame), called "The Twelve-Pound Look." In it, a woman realizes that when she can earn 12 pounds as a typist -- 12 pounds being the price of a typewriter -- she can afford to divorce her husband and live independently. In the same way, when I knew I had earned back the cost of my word-processing computer, I knew that I could support myself as a published writer ~Hal Glatzer [Writer's note: Hal's book, based upon his audio presentation Too Dead to Swing, is an exceptional piece of mystery noir (www.toodeadtoswing.com), and his latest opus A Fugue in Hell's Kitchen is a great spoken word project to listen to. (www.audio-play.com)]

When I was nine years old and wrote a complete Hardy Boys Novel . . . that never sold. ~Rhonda Gibson (www.rhondagibson.com).

I have believed that I was meant to be a writer since my third grade teacher encouraged me to write down a story she overheard me telling some younger kids in the recess yard. It took 25 years to finally see my name in print in an international trade journal, but I never Doubted it would happen ~Jeanne Spicer Evans [Writer's note: Jeanne is the most creative mind I know. Her no-nonsense ideas on writing, will make you think. I know she and I have had many a chat - butting heads on the subject to use a better term. Have her on any writer's workshop and it will be electric, she knows this craft well. She has also written spec scripts for "Airwolf," "The Equalizer" and "Babylon 5" first season]

I considered myself a writer the first time I wrote something that I intended to get published. If a person is writing for publication, whether it gets published or not, he or she is a writer. ~Dan Case (the editor of www.writingfordollars.com.)

In 1940 I was seven years old. Eddie, Bernie, Jean and I played newspaper. Our office was a huge cardboard box. I was a writer.  ~Jim Connelly, Avalon, NJ

I have the same definition of a professional writer as the Mystery Writers of America (I serve on their national board) -- a writer gets paid for her work. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "none but a blockhead ever wrote for money?" Anyway, I was so proud of the first paid article I ever wrote that I hung it up. Not on the wall -- on my front door -- until it curled up and blew away . . . PS: Now there's paid, and paid. The motto of the MWA is "Crime doesn't pay -- enough." ~Elaine Viets (www.elaineviets.com)

I considered myself a writer when my grandmother, back when I was a mere twelve or thirteen, proclaimed in a short message to me in my diary that she knew in her heart I was a real writer and that she expected to see me a published author some day; she died just prior to my first book being published. ~Sarah E. Lingley, Historical Nonfiction, Freelance Editing (www.themovingpen.com)

Actually, this question has haunted me for quite some time. It's hard for me to answer. My inner belief is that anyone who devotes time to putting writing implement to paper is a writer. Whether anyone ever reads your work, you are a writer. Emily Dickinson was a poet all of her life, though no one knew. I've been a writer for 20 years. I make my living as a technical writer - churning out hundreds of pages each year. Whenever I introduce myself as a writer, my friends and family correct me as if I were not really a writer, but putting on airs. "Oh, she's a technical writer," as though that doesn't count. I suppose professional musicians go through the same problem - no one supporting you until you've had your first hit. But I AM a writer - and very tired of being corrected! ~Carol Lindsay (Administrator www.coffeehouseforwriters.com)

A radio station in Croatia picked up one of my plays a few years ago, translated it and broadcast it throughout their listening area. I signed a contract in a language I couldn't read, never heard the final product, and deposited the check. That's when I knew I was a writer. ~Brian Price [Writer's note: Brian is an amazing audio writer/producer/director and sometimes an actor. His Involvement in the National Audio Theater Festival board of directors is one reason the Mark Time Awards run smoothly. If you want a great laugh, get a copy of Peter Galaxy, his SF audio theater satire . It's available at Great Northern Audio Theatre (www.greatnorthernaudio.com) with more of his audio theater works.]

Sometimes it's difficult to see yourself as others do. Accepting the reality that I am a writer and that others view me as such has been a life-time journey of discovery, helped along the way by friends and strangers both. Acknowledging the gift brings acceptance of responsibility. ~Gay Ingram

I knew I was a writer when I emailed my very first query with a writing sample and the next day the newspaper editor called, offered me my own paid fiction column with a two-year contract.  ~Cindy O'Halloran, (www.cohalloran.com) [Writer's note: Cindy can write a good audio script as well - a very multitalented lady.]

I felt called to begin putting words on paper in Jan 2000 - New Millennium, new career. I started dabbling, outlining a book, and attended a writer's conference, but I didn't consider myself a writer until I had the courage to answer a new acquaintance 's question "So, what do you do?" with the assertion "I'm a writer." All I had at the time was an unpublished manuscript, two obscure magazine credits, and a lot of ideas, but I knew I was a writer from the passion that flowed in my heart. ~Tim Burns (www.timothyburns.com)

I believe we all are writers . . . and as we go thru life the writing changes . . . at times we may do very little, little yellow sticky notes for basic communication. Other times we may be Journaling to see where we have been and where we are going and where we are at the moment we are entering in that journal. We find ourselves writing bits and pieces throughout our lives, papers for school, postcards from that far off place. When is it when we truly become a writer . . . does it start with the bits and pieces and the ending when these parts are put together in a story form. Perhaps society recognizes it when it's published. Maybe we need to look at the big picture, and maybe it truly starts with the first color book picture we did for Mom that so proudly was taped to the refrigerator door with a few words scribbled on. What the writer is after she or he is published is only an accumulation of all that has been. Where does it truly begin? ~Alice Stacionis CHT, (www.SRS-Consultants.com)

Well, if you like some of these comments, there is always room for more in my second installment of "When do you consider yourself a writer" coming soon. Please, if you do wish to comment, try 3-4 sentences MAX! So if you want your voice heard for this topic or any other you want addressed in this column, the email is [email protected] Always put the word WRITER in the subject line of your email.

I would love to see more from those who already commented, if you wish to share it with me! Send it on with the title WRITER REDUX (you got to love French!) depending on space I will put those in the second installment. If you already sent your comments and they ain't here! I got them (thank you!), and I will try to use them next time. I always think feedback is a great idea to learn from, no one is perfeckt! (I KNOW ITS MISSPELLED and I ain't changing it!)

So 'til next time, REACH FOR THE STARS.

****
This article is the sole property of the author. It is produced here with the author's permission.  The unauthorized use or reprinting of an article is illegal, and will be prosecuted at the discretion of the author.