Weekend Edition – On “Real” Writers Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

How to Tell If You’re a “Real” Writer

Even the Blue Fairy can't make you a real writer ~ Inspirational Illustration by Gustaf Tenggren

Even the Blue Fairy can’t make you a real writer ~ Inspirational Illustration by Gustaf Tenggren

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle around the Internet for the past few weeks. Like drunken participants in a virtual bar brawl, the topics of MFAs and creative exclusion have careened from blog to blog, crashing into our headspace and spilling beer on our reading material. While I’m glad that people are talking about writing (even if they are being a little unruly about it), I’m discouraged that the conversation focuses so heavily on the idea of external validation – of whether or not (and how) someone else can say that you are (or are not) a “real” writer. And, for that matter, what’s with this term “Real” Writer?

This isn’t the first time we have been caught in the crossfire, but this particular row began with a piece penned by former MFA professor Ryan Boudinot. Published on The Stranger, Things I Can Say About MFA Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One is less a personal expose and more a personal attack on both the students he taught and the institution he worked for. My favorite bit of his diatribe was this, “Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.” I have no words.

As you might expect, Boudinot’s article raised the ire of other writers far and wide. Here are a few of the responses I found most interesting:

An Open Letter to That Ex-MFA Creative Writing Teacher Dude by Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds – Though Chuck’s prolific use of obscenities and colorful metaphors (such as, “peeing bees”) may not be your thing, Mr. Wendig makes some very good points and he gets top marks for passionate presentation.

On Ryan Boudinot and the Goddard MFA by poet Bhanu Kapil provides a much more restrained rebuttal, but a rebuttal nonetheless. The piece is given additional weight by the fact that the author also taught at Goddard.

Open Letter to Crabby Writing Teachers Everywhere by Karin Gillespie offers not only a satisfying rebuke, but also hope to emerging writers with her debunking of The Myth of the Real Deal.

 

I have never taught in an MFA, and I don’t expect I’ll ever enroll in one. I have, however, been a writer for my entire life. My journey began at the age of seven, when I put pencil to paper in my first journal. I have been on my writing adventure ever since, and although I have not hit the New York Times Bestseller List (yet), I definitely consider myself a “real” writer.

Why?

Because the result of doing something is not the thing. Doing the thing is the thing.

Being published or even financially compensated does not make you a “real” writer. Earning public acclaim, industry awards, or the envious admiration of your peers does not make you a “real” writer. All you need to do to be a “real” writer is commit to the practice of writing. All those other things – income, fame, academic acknowledgement – are just possible results of writing. They are not the writing. And – one more time – they do not make you a writer.

When you think about the question of whether or not you are a “real” writer in the context of other things we do, the idea becomes kind of silly.

If I run for fitness, but have not been paid to run or won any marathons, I can still call myself a “runner” without fear of anyone questioning the veracity of my claim. If I practice yoga in the privacy of my own home without any hope of applause for my downward dog or tree pose, I can still confidently call myself a yogini. If I tend a garden purely for the joy of nurturing green things, without any intent to make a profit from the flowers and vegetables that grow in my care, I can still call myself a gardener.

When people like Boudinot judge (as if it was their job in the first place) whether or not someone is a “real” writer, the criteria they use is all wrong. Income, acclaim, and all the other external trappings of their “real” writer have little to do with the actual writing. They are simply the outcome of a person having written. It was the act of writing that made that person a writer, not cashing a check or accepting a trophy. You may not be a professional writer, but that does not mean you are a not a real writer any more than not being paid for my zinnias keeps me from being a real gardener.

The question of skill is equally as misplaced.

Just because I’m unable to stand on my head perfectly (or, at all) doesn’t mean I’m not a yogini. Just because my tomato plant didn’t win first prize at the county fair doesn’t mean I’m not a gardener. Skill is something we can acquire only through practice. And, if we are practicing a thing, we are a practitioner of the skill in question, which in turn earns us the title of runner, writer, gardener, etc.

In her lovely and deeply inspiring book If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland asserts that everyone has talent and everyone has a story worth telling. She has no tolerance for critics. In the very first chapter of her book, she writes,

So often I come upon articles written by critics of the very highest brow, and by other prominent writers, deploring the attempts of ordinary people to write. The critics rap us savagely on the head with their thimbles, for our nerve. No one but a virtuoso should be allowed to do it. The prominent writers sell funny articles about all the utterly crazy, fatuous, amateurish people who think they can write.

Ueland wrote her book in 1938. Clearly, this isn’t a new problem.

 

I hope that if you have been troubled in the past by worries about whether or not you are (or, ever will be) a “real” writer, that this post will help you move past that concern and free you up to focus on the joy of your writing practice. Put your heart and mind fully into the effort. Study and learn. Discover. Uncover. Experiment. There is no such thing as a “real” writer. If you write, you are a writer, and it doesn’t get any more real than that.

 

And, the next time someone asks you what you do, tell them, “Professionally, I’m a [fill in your job title here]; but in my real life, I’m a writer.”

 

What I’m {Learning About} Writing: You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket.

Morning Gather by Terri Unger

Morning Gather by Terri Unger

You only get one chance to make a first impression.

This may be true. It may also be one of the primary reasons writers stress out about sharing their work.

Fear of rejection often keeps us from putting our work out into the world. Whatever opus we’re working on, we hide it away to protect it from critical eyes and sharp tongues. We have worked too long and too hard to risk others tearing the product of our labors apart, or (perhaps even worse) ignoring it completely. How many manuscripts are out there, languishing in the proverbial bottom drawer?

But, what if, instead of putting all your effort into your Big Project (only to lock it away from the light of day), you put some of your creative energy and time into shorter, less momentous works?

This idea is one of the reasons writing practices like blogging, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and other short forms are so valuable. They require less of an investment from you, and they provide you with many, smaller (and therefore less daunting) opportunities to share your words. Instead of having to serve an entire, five-course meal, you can just offer a cup of tea, a cookie, or an appetizer.

Sure, sometimes a reader won’t enjoy your tea or will think your cookie could have used a little less sugar and a bit more spice, but that’s okay. It isn’t as if one blog post (or essay or short story) can define your career or your identity as a writer. And, the more you put these little pieces of yourself out into the world, the braver you will become and the better your will be at learning to separate yourself from the work. You will worry less about getting hurt, and be more intrigued by what you can learn from reader feedback. You will start to see each moment of “exposure” less as a horrific moment of being naked on stage, and more as a chance to build connections that sustain and inspire you.

Give it a try. What small thing can you write and share today?

 

What I’m Reading: Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé

book peaches monsieurChocolat is one of my favorite movies. Based on the novel by Joanne Harris (which I’m sorry to say I’ve never read), it has a wonderful sense of place, interwoven themes, and an underlying current of magic. Imagine my delight, then, to find a copy of Harris’ companion novel, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé, on the sale cart at my local library. Oh, happy day!

Set in the same provincial French town as Chocolat, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé also features the same characters as Harris’ original story plus a new cast who bring heightened stakes and greater tension to this culturally-charged story. I was hooked by the book’s very first lines,

Someone once told me, that in France alone, a quarter of a million letters are delivered every year to the dead.

What she didn’t tell me is that sometimes the dead write back.

Harris’ protagonist, Vianne Rocher, is fascinating to me. She is at once apart from and deeply entangled with the lives of the people around her. Her gifts of small magic, of being able to see people’s “colours” and flashes of visions, are both enchanting and believable.

I enjoyed my return trip to the small town of Lansquenet, and it may be that I will soon journey to other lands of Harris’ creation. Having taken a closer look at her catalog, it seems she offers a wide variety of destinations to her readers.

 

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin real writers

Here’s to being as real as you can be – as a writer, and as a human being. Happy writing! Happy reading! I’ll see you on the other side. 
.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

106 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – On “Real” Writers Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

  1. I had the blue fairy as my avatar for several years. Love when I notice others using any type of wand waving wish granter.

    Writing is something many of us need to do on WordPress. Happy to be able to type away, read other’s thoughts and perspectives, and always learn something new every day!

    • Wands and wishes are usually signs of good things. 😉 I actually keep a wand on my desk … just in case. You never know when one might come in handy!

  2. Thank you for doing so much research to write your piece, and I appreciate the encouragement! I like how you say that when you started writing your first journal, that’s when you became a writer. I’m glad you started then and never stopped.

    • My pleasure, Mary. I was driven by my own curiosity, but am glad I have a place to share what I found (and people like you who are interested!).

      I wish more kids were encouraged to think of themselves as writers from the very start. Writing is such an important life skill.

      Thanks for coming by.

      • You are welcome! Yes, I was never told I couldn’t write (I was homeschooled) and my parents just let me take off. I agree with you about children learning that they are writers early on…

  3. It sounds by all accounts like the man who got all snotty at his students for having the audacity to have gone to a place of learning to learn (rather than to already know what they were doing) was probably not the best man to be teaching anybody about anything. Perhaps he should try doing a teacher training qualification before calling himself a teacher, because working at an academic institution and cashing a paycheck clearly did not make him a competent teacher, mentor, encourager or learning facilitator… Therefore, he was never a REAL teacher. It’s a good job he’s not working there any more, and most of all I feel sorry for his previous students who had come to learn, not to be emotionally abused by someone who clearly hated his job.

    • Ooh! ZING!
      What an excellent point. He WASN’T a “real” teacher. At all. LOVE your perspective.

      I agree – I feel sorry for his students as well. I hope that they went on to find much more competent teachers and mentors.

      Thanks much for coming by and sharing such a great insight. 🙂

    • Absolutely love your observation here about professor Boudinot. He obviously didn’t enjoy his work and the students. If we already know how to do math, why take a math class, if we know how to cook, why take a cooking class, and duh, why does one take a writing class….why…to learn abuse, to learn bullying, to learn how to tolerate being crushed to the bone by yet one more person who thinks they are superior to you. I think not. One takes a writing course to learn writing, to learn what makes a good writer, how to compose a good sentence, how to use the English language( or whatever language you do use) to get their message across and how to bring, pleasure, or knowledge, or excitement, or humor or any and all of the feelings they are attempting to bring to their readers and to legitimately nurture their own needs of expression. No Boudinot, was not a real teacher nor would he be “real” at most any other profession with an attitude like that. Bravo to you, for seeing the un-“Real” professor.

      • I think you explained it much better than I did. As a teacher it got my goat. Or possibly llama. At least people know what he’s like now and he’s effectively made himself unemployable. I liked a couple of the rebuttals.

  4. excellent. No, wait a second. Excellent. Definitely deserves to be capitalized.
    Who does not want outside validation of “being” a writer?
    But my goal at present is fairly simple: connect with readers on a personal level. Make them think. Let them know they are important and that their heart and soul is trying to be reached by this “writer”. If I’m successful they will reach mine. Who needs more validation than that?

    • First, thank you.

      Second, YES! I believe that writers should, whenever possible, write with one person in mind – try to make that simple but authentic connection and touch someone’s heart and mind. One word, one reader, one connection at a time.

      • One thing I hate seeing in this internet age, from what I read and research, is an agent’s almost all-consuming concern with the ‘platform’. The reader can, and should, define what they enjoy. But much of what they might enjoy may never reach the light of their reading lamp if a writer doesn’t have much of a platform. I hate to imagine how many enjoyable works may never be known because of that one thing.

  5. Sage words. a REAL writer writes because he / she loves to write. Period. I’ve read enough to have realized that being published and even being a bestselling author does not mean you are ‘the best’. There are plenty Indie works out there who could, and should easily be in the bestseller lists.

    • Yes, being a writer is more about the motivation and the process than the outcome. The nice thing is that if you focus consistently on the motivation and process, the outcome will be good.

      I agree that there are many Indie authors out there who deserve way more readers and acclaim than they currently have. I hope that as the publishing world continues to evolve, there are new ways for these writers to reach the people who want and need their stories.

  6. Great topic, Jamie, and thank you for the encouragement and validation of writers like me who never have and never will enter an MFA program. As I’ve looked into publications, seminars, conferences for writers, there is -understandably – a focus on credentials like an MFA or prior publishing credts. But there also seems to be a tad of a snobbush aura of superiority as if the uncredentialed writers shouldn’t bother to participate or submit their work.

    The publishing world is being blown apart by social media, new genres of writing, and easier avenues to self-publish. In the same way MFA programs might feel themselves losing some luster (as well as $$$$) because writers aren’t as constrained in their upward literary journey.

    They are interesting dynamics and discussions in yet snother rapidly chsnging industry. The visciousness and personal attacks are certainly beneath the dignity of writers of integrity.

    • Thanks, Sammy. I’m nothing if not a cheerleader for writers. 😉

      I agree (and am hopeful) that the publishing world till continue to evolve via new genres and formats and ways for writers to reach and connect with readers.

      I also agree that there is no place for personal attacks in the world of “grown-up” writers (and teachers!).

      Nice to see you!

  7. Thanks again Jamie for a great post. I really do think that anyone who can commit to making the time to write should be granted the ‘real’ status. To be honest though I think it is exactly that. Just a status. I won’t be taking too much notice of the whole ‘real’ thing. Like you have said, it should not be based on past achievements/awards whatever. The status ‘real’ is not ‘real’ at all in my opinion. It should be left to those who feel they need that amount of recognition. As long as I’m enjoying my writing then I’m happy! 🙂 thanks again.

    • Hi, Mark.
      Yep … writing is writing. It doesn’t need any additional label or status. Any additional qualifier assumes that some kind of judgment has been made, and that’s unnecessary.

      Glad to hear you’re still enjoying your writing. I hope it’s coming along for you!

  8. I recently joined SCBWI and hesitated for quite a while before finally checking the box “writer”; and, even now, I wish I had just checked “other”, so that I could add the word amateur. 😦

    • I wouldn’t worry about that at all. I dread any form that requires me to check boxes. It’s too hard to fit into a box, don’t you think? I do not think anyone at SCBWI (a wonderful organization!) will call you on the carpet for checking “Writer” when you are “only” an amateur. If they were concerned about that, they would have let you specify that.

      Congrats on joining SCBWI, by the way. Nice step in the right direction! 😉

  9. Loved this post! Thank you very much for it! Not putting all eggs in the same basket is something very important to learn. This is why I eventually took a dive into indie publishing, though I still have projects I’ll query to agents in the future. The way we can have hybrid paths now is encouraging and can teach us about exploring new options and handle rejection better. Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

    • I’m right with you, Natacha. Though most of my eggs are in my copywriting/content marketing basket at the moment, I have definite plans to diversify that set-up in 2015. I have at least two, maybe three, writing projects (both fiction and nonfiction) that I hope to at least jumpstart this year. Kind of excited! 🙂

  10. Thank you, Jamie! I ran across this quote from Sherwood Anderson a couple months ago. “The point of being an artist is that you may live…the object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself.” So, as you said, a writer with a day job is still a writer – even if she never sells her books. Case in point: Emily Dickinson.

    • What a great quote. Thanks for sharing.

      There is a section in Brenda Ueland’s book about the poet William Blake who apparently burned much of his work because he was very intentional about avoiding “earthly fame.” He wrote for the joy of it. Pure and simple.

      We should all be so wise.

  11. “Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.”

    Is the word “student” means nothing to him? Clearly not.

    About being a “real writer”
    Who cares? As long as you believe in yourself, love what you do and continuing to put pen on paper bestsellers, literary recognition and awards or not, then you’re on the right track. You have to please yourself first before you can please anybody and as all of us already know, we cannot please everybody.

    • Please yourself (write for yourself) first. YES!
      I have often heard the advice that writers should write the book they want to read. I think there is a lot of wisdom in that idea. Make yourself happy with your stories. If someone else is also made happy, that is icing on the cake.
      🙂

  12. Great article and right on spot as always ! I’ve got a little confession to make, myself. I have been writing since I was 10, and though I’ve had periods of time when I haven’t been able to write anything…now I am back on it ! 🙂 Have an amazing and full of insipiration weekend !

    • Thank you, Cristina, and thanks for sharing the post. 🙂

      Nice to have a fellow “child writer” here. Glad to hear you are back into your writing groove. I am sure that writing is one of those things that once you have fallen for it, you will always go back to it.

      Enjoy!

      • Thank you so much Jamie ! 🙂 When I write something it sure does not just put a smile on my face, but it also makes me happy. Writing is one of the most wonderful things and feelings in the world, even if you don’t get to be published. And I know you agree with me on this one. Thank you for posting so many helpful guidelines, I appreciate them all !

  13. I read that article you refer to, as well as Chuck Wendig’s rebuttal – I absolutely love a bit of cussing, so no problems there :). I mean seriously – a vindictive, nasty, bitter, burnt out teacher writes a hate letter to writing students. I hope the flames that are burning him right now are hot.
    I have read Chocolat – and had no idea that it was a trilogy! Yep, putting them on my to read list. Also, loved your argument about bring a real writer – how come real writers have to earn a living and have a readership for their writing when yoginis and gardeners and knitters don’t have those standards?

    • I love when you get riled up, Sara. 🙂
      And, I’m delighted that you enjoyed Wendig’s rebuttal. It made me laugh out loud.

      It’s so true, isn’t it, about how writers are looked down upon for trying to practice their craft even when other people who pursue other practices are not? Kind of crazy, really. Imagine if we all went around telling people they couldn’t jog or garden or do a headstand without proper credentials. Sounds like a setting for a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

      I hope you enjoy the other books in the Chocolat series. I may go back and read the 2nd one (which I skipped by accident). We’ll see …

      Nice to have you here. As always.

  14. Thankyou

    I have no idea if I am a ‘real’ writer, but I’ve always had an almost obsessive need to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard to expel or release the thoughts that zoom around in my head like mini missiles expelling their charge and taking up too much room and mindspace.

    Only when they have taken form and landed, only then am I released from their torture, and able to be a free person again.

    Meditation anyone?

    • You’re so welcome, and – if you’re asking my opinion – sounds like you’re a real writer to me!

      And, yes please, re: the meditation. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Although I have not constantly written my thoughts on paper since I was a child, I have composed endless stories and dialogues in my mind through the years. Does this mean that I do not have a right to claim that I am a writer now that I actually have the time to record my thoughts?
    I’m trying to overcome the inhibitions which denied my heart the courage to document thoughts and feelings and imaginings. Thank you for the perspective on starting with small compositions and blogs. Thanks for the encouragement to claim my status as a writer !

    • This is such an interesting question, Suzanne.
      Is a writer a writer even when she isn’t physically writing? I’m leaning towards YES.

      After all, how we perceive the world and capture ideas is all part of writing. The thought work that goes into formulating the story, the daydreams, the brainstorming … all part of writing. Is JK Rowling only a writer when she is putting down prose on the page? Of course not. She is a writer while she’s dreaming up Hogwarts and making notes in outlines and thinking about all the different characters in her cast.

      I will think on this more. Thanks for posing the question.

      And, good luck with some smaller compositions and learning to call yourself “writer.” 🙂

  16. Thank you for giving us the courage to keep going. I can’t tell you how many times I have convinced myself that I’m not a real writer. For years I have devoted pen to paper and fingers on keys. It’s a relief to know there are those who truly understand.

    • I think there are far too many people who hide their love of writing because they don’t know there are people who will not only understand their passion, but cheer them for it.

      Thanks for being here.

    • Thanks, Jamie! 🙂
      And, thanks for sharing and connecting on Twitter. See you over there, too!

  17. Fantastic post Jamie, and one that many writers need to see. Yes, we are writers if we write. It doesn’t matter if we make money or a name or anything else – the act of writing makes us a writer. I love that! Thanks so much for the validation.
    As always, I enjoy your blog and appreciate the intelligence and empathy with which you write.

    • Hello, Linda. So nice to see you.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I agree that there are so many writers out there who need to hear more of this kind of talk than the poison that Mr. Boudinot served up.

      Thanks for being here and for all the lovely compliments. I’m blushing.

    • Thank you, Jeena. It’s something I’m working on myself, so I’m glad it struck a chord for you.
      🙂

  18. Sadly, writing is not the only area that suffers from the public perception of the final “results”. Science, or should I say scientists, are also burdened by the constant requirement of publishing their work in the most renown and important journals, which in the public’s eye makes them most important and “right”. The ultimate expression of renown and rightness is the Impact Factor, a commercially based statistic of the number of citations of articles in a journal. This creates a vicious circle, because scientists themselves are prone to putting more trust in an article from a high-impact journal, than in one from a journal with no (official) IF at all (which is possible if the journal hasn’t paid an agency to track its citations!), and thus the former are cited much more than the latter. It turns out it’s a similar story with writing. I didn’t realize there was such a problem until I read this post, although my perception of book publishing has changed a bit in that exact direction since I started self-publishing my stories. It is now clear to me that printed books are more the product of publishers trying to make money, and less the expression of the best written works that are available, while fame is just as much a matter of the ebb and flow of information between people (championed by media, social or not) as it is based on the quality of the writing.

    • Wow.
      Thanks for sharing this peek into the scientific world, Ivan. I had no idea it was so hierarchical. It seems we have enlightened each other.

      “Fame is just as much a matter of the ebb and flow of information between people (championed by media, social or not) as it is based on the quality of the writing.” That is so interesting. There is, as they say, a kind of “fame machine” that kicks into action and can catapult the least suspecting person into the limelight while simultaneously restricting the access of another, equally deserving individual.

      This gives us all the more reason to write for ourselves and not with publishing as our end all be all goal.

      Definitely lots to think about. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  19. Reblogged this on Getting Lit Fit and commented:
    Something I struggled with in college was this kind of shaming of my writing. My first creative writing class was taught by a stoned Northampton poet who essentially told me that my work had no value. I didn’t register for another creative writing class for two years, and even when I did get back into it, I still faced a lot of disparaging remarks. I know my family doesn’t consider me a writer. Most people don’t know I’m a writer because I’ve never produced anything “of value.” But I still am a writer.

    I really appreciate the notion that “Being published or even financially compensated does not make you a “real” writer. Earning public acclaim, industry awards, or the envious admiration of your peers does not make you a “real” writer. All you need to do to be a “real” writer is commit to the practice of writing.”

    I’ve spent so much time away from my writing. I take hiding to a new level. Where many writers produce their work and never share it because they’re afraid, I give up altogether on ideas that I once had so much passion for, because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of disappointing my readers, but moreso, I’m afraid of disappointing myself.

    I know an MFA won’t fix this. Nothing will fix this but the act of gathering enough courage to sit down and finish what I started. If I can do that, I’ll have no excuse not to share my work with whoever will listen.

    Thank you for the little bit of sunshine.

  20. Wow! The instant that I saw you correctly used yogini in a well punctuated sentence I knew you were a real writer. Nice rap on the critics’ heads by the way. I’ve yet to find a “critically acclaimed” New York Times work that I wanted to finish. And, what about poor Will? All those plays, all that bad spelling, like, the dude couldn’t possibly, like, be a real writer. Could he? You said this so well I might as end this comment by reblogging!!

    • 🙂
      Your comment made me smile. Poor Will, indeed. HA!

      Thank you for sharing and for bringing a little extra humor to the end of a long day. Much appreciated.

  21. Pingback: Guest post: ON “REAL” WRITERS PLUS GOOD READS AND WRITING TIPS | Funhouse

  22. I really like your take on what it means to be a writer. I”ve had occasion to discuss this topic many times in my work with teachers, and you’ve elucidated the point I often try to make with them so clearly. Thanks for your work on this blog.

  23. Very timely advice for me personally, thank you! It also helps that I agree wholeheartedly.

    I’m still in the slow process of setting up my bog site (while juggling kids needs and a particularly demanding work period – perhaps not the best time to have attempted this in retrospect but if not now then…) so while I wrestle with the purpose and envisioned outcomes, ultimately, I simply want to enjoy the experience.

    My passion is words; writing them, speaking them, reading them and listening to them. I’m not an expert, I’ve not studied them. I have written quite a few articles for my work, but that certainly doesn’t make me an expert nor give me the right to judge others. Am I a “real” writer because my articles are published or available in print or online? I actually don’t think so.

    I just write. I’d like to explore that more because it gives me pleasure. I enjoy reading what others read because beneath it all, whether they’ve been published or not, they had a story made of words and driven by feelings that they (hopefully) enjoyed the experience of creating and sharing with others.

    Many thanks,
    Kat

    • Hi, Kat.

      First – this is the PERFECT time for you to start your blog. Though it’s a challenge for me to fit my blogging (and column writing) into my single-mama-freelance-writer world, I have never for one moment regretted jumping in with both feet even though I didn’t have the time and wasn’t “ready.” There’s no such thing as “ready,” and there will never be enough time. Better to just dive in and figure it out along the way. 😉

      Second, I love your focus on joy and I hope that you can hold onto that as your writing journey unfolds. That is, I think, one of the most precious parts of the experience.

      Best of luck & I hope to see you around again soon!

  24. Thank you for this. Who knew a change in perspective could change the way I see myself as a writer. Not to mention the fact that I am super excited to read Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure!

    • Happy to help with your change in perspective, and I hope you enjoy Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure.
      🙂

  25. RE: How to Tell if You’re a Real Writer….I have a degree in art and although it was decades ago I did have some moderate success as an exhibiting artist. Yet when I recently moved a friend suggested that I fill one wall with my own work. While I am certain her intention was not to hurt, I was shocked when she said, “It doesn’t have to be real art.” At the same time, while I’ve written for years and have a few publishing credits, I still blush when I’m described as an author. Inwardly I’m saying to myself the same thing as my friend; that what I’m doing “isn’t real writing.”

    • I think that our writing never feels “real” in much the same way that we never feel “grown up,” even when we are. I will be 46 this year, and yet I still feel like I am a kid in some respects. It’s a strange, almost out-of-body feeling. And I think that many artists and writers have a similar sensation when experiencing their own work. Even when we are “doing it,” we still feel like we’re not “there,” if that makes any sense.

      PS – I hope you did put up your art, and I hope you viewed it as “real.” 🙂

  26. Inspiring post! I never thought of myself as a writer yet since I have nothing published. Thank you for making me feel like it is all worth it!

  27. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I have always wanted to write since I was a child and am really enjoying learning how to write blogs and work on other writing projects. What you shared was very validating and much appreciated.

    • Hello! Thanks for being here. Nice to “meet” you. 🙂
      I just visited your blog and enjoyed your piece about how we are the story. Lovely reminisces.
      Welcome to the wonderful (and wild – which would seem to suit you perfectly given your blog name, which I adore) world of blogging. Have fun!

  28. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Imagine A World of Writers Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write – Write to Live

  29. Well for starters, you open with the word “kerfuffle”, one of my absolute favorites. It is indeed amusing watching all of these egos battle for the title of “real writer”, “good mom”, or “top executive”. I fear our celebrity focused and fear based culture will fight this battle for some time, which makes your voice of reason all the more welcome. Thanks for the reblog:)

    • Thanks so much. And, you are so right … this kind of ego-based battle is prevalent throughout our society – not just in the world of writers.

      Thanks much. Always glad to meet another writer who loves the word “Kerfuffle.” 🙂

  30. Pingback: Weekend Edition: Love Your Mistakes Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write – Write to Live

  31. Pingback: Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Write Like a Puppy | Live to Write – Write to Live

  32. Whoa! This was brilliant. Thank you very much Jamie for saying all that and sharing the link with me. I can totally relate with all of what you said.

    As I said in my comment on your other post last night (I am on other side of the globe), I have spent all my life with that fear of audience and of rejection. I wrote a book too and I had to burn the manuscript because it was hurting me really.

    But, then, I came out of my fear, I don’t know how. I just decided that like I don’t care if I write bad I want to write, I want to express those random thoughts in my mind.

    I don’t particularly write any genre “technically speaking”, but, I write whatever comes naturally to me, my academic research area is political science/public policy but I write whatever provokes an idea. I don’t know if that’s okay – because I don’t write for any particular niche. What do you say, I feel great comfort with it, I don’t force my mind when it comes to writing.

    And when I do, every time, I have to pretend that no one is watching – no one is going to read it – and only then my mind comes out of my self-doubt – and starts dictating my hand.

    I would really like you to visit my blog sometime and tell me about my writing style and “diction”. I will be glad and grateful.

    I will keep following your more writings. Thank you very much, this was real motivation. (Y) (And sorry about an essay-sized comment. lol)

    • Hello, Bilal.
      I’m so glad you found this post helpful. I thought, based on your comments, that it might speak to you.

      Sometimes, we need to remember that, like life, writing is a journey, not a destination. We often focus too much on the outcome, on the “product” and we don’t give the practice or the ritual it’s due. (This is something I’ll be writing about for this Saturday’s weekend edition.)

      Because I don’t want to make promises I may not keep, I can’t commit to reading your blog. I’ve learned from past experience that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to read everything I would like to, and I don’t want to let anyone down.

      I do hope that you will keep writing as if no one is looking, as if no one else will ever read it. Enjoy the process. Write because you love to write and for no other reason than that. Let the experience evolve naturally.

      Good luck & I hope to “see” you this weekend. 😉

      • Its alright if you cannot really visit my blog, I understand, I find myself overwhelmed with the things I want to do all the time as well. But, still if you ever, ever, get the chance, do stop by to read a few lines – it will make me feel really happy to see what you have to say, and yes, I do try to enjoy the process, and I found your words really inspiring and helpful.:)

        And I am definitely looking forward to “seeing” you this weekend. Thanks a lot again. 🙂

  33. Pingback: Weekend Edition – To NaNoWriMo or Not, That Is the Question | Live to Write – Write to Live

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