Nine years ago (yikes, has it been that long already?!) when I decided to really start working towards 'being a writer' I never could have imagined what a long, twisty and complicated road it would be. I thought being a writer was about writing the material ... that's it. I had no idea that there was a whole lifetime of work after you write the words 'the end'. There's networking, agents, queries, outlines, synopses, edits, marketing, rewrites, websites and promotion, promotion, promotion!
The business of being a writer is much different than the art of being a writer yet no less important. I feel as though I am a writer because I write all the time. Everyday I sit at the keyboard and pound out thousands of words on any number of projects I am working on. Many days I turn off the computer at midnight and feel proud of the work I have accomplished during the day. Then I show up at a coffee party, a house party or a church function and the dreaded conversations occurs.
"Hi, I'm Supermom with High Power Career. What do you do?"
"Nice to meet you, I'm Some Random Mother and I'm a writer."
"Oh, how interesting, what's the name of your book? Maybe I've read it?"
"Um, my current work isn't published ... yet"
What follows next is Supermom's look of disdain and my walk of shame to the h'ordeuvres table where I pick at a few questionable puffed pastry items and them find a large potted plant to hide behind for the rest of the evening. To avoid this humiliating interaction I have taken to hiding my dirty little secret of being a writer. I did, for a while, try out the "I'm a family blogger" line but that was only met with a look of pity so I've stopped that too.
So I am a closet writer. Literally, some days when the noise in the house gets to be too much and I am forced to write in the storage closet. I write without acclaim, publicity or glory (yet!), I am the masked crusader of all platform building writers everywhere! I network, blog, forum post, write short stories, book reviews and articles for e-magazines. I Tweet and Facebook. I research and edit. I script write, build proposals and rack up my word count. I plot, sub plot and craft characters. I watch my story arc, build conflict and weave in a little angst. I dream and scheme and play with phrasing, timing and metaphors. I banish cliches and nurture poetry in prose. I am a writer!
I also waste time on You Tube and ebay. I play tetris, spin in my chair and crumble up paper. I drink LOTS of coffeejuice, wear a uniform of yoga pants and an old denim work shirt and build play lists to match my writing. I need to wear fuzzy socks and take off my watch when I work. I have a thesaurus and a dictionary on my desk and two more in open windows on my screen. I read for content and I reread for grammar. I am a writer!
Being a writer is more than the finished product of a published novel. Being a writer is learning and growing. It's honing your craft, exploring your limits and recreating yourself. Like everything in life, it's all about the journey and the destination is only the starting point for the next leg of the journey.