When Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

I’m writing the synopsis this morning of my YA novel and I’m thinking the whole time, “This novel sucks!  Is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?”

I’m thinking of all the time I have spent working on this novel and the worst-case scenario flashes before my mind:  just another word document on my computer.  Just like all of my other novels and non-fiction work.

I’m frustrated, no doubt.  I think my stuff is good but if I can’t convince anyone else of that then it’s worthless and just a bunch of wasted time.

I never call myself a writer.  I just don’t.  Sure, I have a blog but so do lots of other people.  I would like to definitively say, “Yes, I’m a writer.”  But I just don’t.  I guess I don’t feel like one until I have something published.  Otherwise, I feel like a tinker.  When I say this, I mean one who works with something in an unskilled manner, an experimenter, a fiddler.

I fiddle.  I tinker.  I experiment.  Not create, enthrall, or inspire.

Sigh.  I feel this as God’s calling, but I also feel frustrated when I languish.  Give me something here, Lord.  Anything!

Words of encouragement only get me so far.  I’m results oriented.

And right now it seems like results are light-years away.

10 thoughts on “When Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

  1. Interesting post today. I just did a cover for a novel a couple of months ago. The writer gave me the finished book last Sunday. The cover looks good (I thank God for that)…but this week as I am reading his creation, I find that it is awful…just awful. How I wish he had a good and truthful editor. Now my art work is going to be on a book that will go nowhere! Be sure to have some honest critiques from people who will be truthful with you.

  2. The one thing that is true, if you do not believe in you, other will not either. I hear your confidence. Then you undercut it with doubt. JUST DO IT! Prepare the query letter and send it out. Another thing you are correct about; if you do not send it out, it WILL/IS just another Word document.

    And finally, yes, find people who will be truthful with you HOWEVER, it is also easy to find people who will tell you what you want to hear… either way, to talk you into or reinforce your doubt… and their reality may not be yours (esp in the literary world). Even in the literary world, there will be a million rejects before a yes! May also be one of the reasons so many people self publish with little to no out pocket cost and only buy inventory they can personally sell or others can buy directly from the publisher.
    JUST DO IT! ONly God is perfect. Quit trying to second guess Him… His determination for you… it will appear, in His time!!! What He has in store may be like Moses in the desert sheep herding for 40 years before the big, now you’re ready even if you don’t think so moment.
    Sometimes I feel as if you are trying to force something… over analyze and get in Gods way to work with you because you want to be in control. And it appears for now, he is letting you try to figure it out and do it your way, Most often doing it His way is doing nothing and letting Him work. remember… “BE STILL… and know that I am God” As long as you are not doing that, you are also saying to him that you do not have total and implicit FAITH in Him. Let go… do what you can do… do the best you can do… leave ALL the rest to sort out. Faith for me is like free falling, I do what I can to prepare but I KNOW I must jump especially when I’m the most frightened… and I KNOW there is a net to catch me… His arms!! Your self flagellation is not becoming.

  3. Words of encouragement only get me so far. I’m results oriented.
    I wonder if God is results oriented…

  4. Dear Sister (In Our Lord Jesus Christ)

    Back up, put things in perspective, see the BIG picture!

    I give you two scriptures:

    Colossians 3:23-24

    23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

    Matthew 6:33

    33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    May you find God’s blessings as you use the gifts He has given you!


  5. Dear Atozmom, take Lea’s response to heart – it contains really good advise!

  6. Mornin’ Beautiful :-).

    Sounds like you’ve gotten some good comments.

    There have been several posts that I’ve started to respond to but had to stop because the wee one was doing something that either wasn’t right to do or was unsafe.

    I’m either teaching, correcting or distracting, because that’s what love does. Sometimes he thinks I’m wonderful (when I distract with play or a book or a tickle)…but today wasn’t one of them.

    He’s loving climbing UP stairs, but today I stood behind him but refused to take him DOWN stairs. I spent 45 minutes teaching him feet first. He’d get excited then frustrated and cry. We made some progress but still need work. I will wait till he climbs up on his own again and then repeat the lesson.

    That’s what love does. It uses wisdom (knowing when a child is ready for a certain lesson takes being around them, testing and assessing)…it walks behind/beside as needed (he was never alone on the stairs, I just wasn’t doing what he wanted me to do)…it repeats with patience.

    I’ve heard a lot of talk lately on Christian radio about watered down Gospel (Jesus as love, no wrath or consequences). I remember the mean God I was taught as a child, this God who was going to punish me for every wrong thing I did.

    But the true picture of God that I’ve grown to understand as true is the one of Father…and in understanding that picture…it makes me grow in my child like faith.

    I’m sure you can draw the lines from my experience this morning with my precious wee one here…

    “When will we get there?”…”You’re mean”…”I don’t want to wait till later, I want it NOW!”…”Why not? Other people do it!”…has been screamed by many a child or teenager (often followed by a closing door and silence). Teenagers hold onto it longer.

    Atoz, I don’t know when you’ll get there.

    But what I do know is that your Father in heaven is doing what is best. I don’t know if the novel needs to be rewritten. I don’t know if it’s fine the way that it is but it’s not time for publishing.

    Our vision is SO limited. So short-sighted.

    I’m trying to teach the wee one “Feet First” down from things because I want him to be safe and independent. He just doesn’t know that.

    But, it’s always OK to ask…so ask.

    “God, I’m really frustrated. If there’s something I need to do, please show me what in bright neon letters because I’m just not getting it.”

    Atoz, I know understand being published is the “goal” of a writer. Kinda like is being pregnant being a Mom or do you officially become one when you give birth? I always told my daughter that from the moment you find out you are pregnant you’re a Mom to me, because you think about that child in everything you do. You stop drinking, being around people who smoke, watch what you eat, spend a lot of time in the Baby section of Target…:-).

    God knows the work you’ve put into this novel. God also knows if it’s good. My guess…and this truly is only a guess…is five years from now, this will make sense. God never limits without a reason. He’s the ultimate Father.

    Now, this may sound odd…and I’m not saying that the novel isn’t going to be published..not at all…but wherever you’re going that’s so remote, could you write for the paper there? Not that newspapers aren’t fading out of existence (unfortunately, I happen to like actual paper reading). You have such a beautiful wonderful mind.

    Whether something is good or not..sigh..that’s SO subjective. I watch very little TV..but it always seems that the one show I watch is always the one that’s cancelled. My family thinks it’s hysterical. The motto is if I like something, it’s either discontinued or cancelled.

    Even if a publisher rejects your writing what does that mean? Does it mean you’re NOT a writer or your writing isn’t going to sell him at least a few thousand books according to his marketing statistics? My shows get cancelled because I’m not the demographic they’re looking to please.

    When are you are writer? When you write more than a thank you or birthday card. When you write to help, teach, guide, inform, inspire, motivate, reach others. When are you a speaker? Only when you stand at a podium? I’ve met people who teach at BBQ’s. There’s a table of 8 and they speak and everyone’s listening and what they say changes me.

    They share. In Isaiah, it was all about warning and shouting “DANGER, PLEASE CHANGE!” That’s a prophet. A writer, is motivated to communicate by the written word what others need/want to know.

    It can’t be publishing because you could get something published and no one would read it. It could be offered on amazon and there’s no one who posts a review.

    But here in your little blog…that you almost kind of dismiss as NOT writing…have you not gotten some intense yay’s and nay’s? You’ve been stolen from. Have you struck people to respond. To wake up. To think?

    I’m not really trying to be “encouraging”. What I’m trying to say is stand back and look Atoz. If you had a hugely popular book right now, how would that affect your family? Could you still run to the library? Could you still homeschool? I don’t know. But what I do know is this.

    God is awesomely powerful and the best Father. He’s not ticked off by questions or emotional outbursts by his children, because he understands. He also knows a lot more than we know.

    To answer your question…in case I didn’t make it clear (imagine that!)…IMHO you are a writer. Want to know why? Every time you post I get (and I assume other’s get) an email of what you’ve posted or I can click the link and read it here. I choose to come here. I choose to read what you wrote.

    I’m also on Tess Gerritsen’s mailing list. I am notified by email when she has a new book out. I choose to go to the store/library and get her book. I choose to read what she writes.

    She’s a writer. Same process reading what you’ve written. To me that makes you a writer.

    As always, beautiful, just my two cents from a very stormy (lights have gone out a bunch of times, but praise God no tornado’s tho we’re under a watch) Chicago.

    Many hugs,

  7. I think the answer is simple: If you write anything with the expectation that someone else will read it for pleasure or education or inspiration, etc., you are a writer.

    My 41-year old daughter is a writer. By day she works as a technical writer; by night she has a variety of writing projects, both fiction and non-fiction, she is working on as time permits. In the late 90’s she was asked to write a screenplay for a local film company. The film got made and she got paid but she was extremely unhappy with the outcome because they made a bunch of changes to the script without her permission and the resulting story was full of holes. But, they put her name on it (along with the name of the person who did the changes). In the following years she wrote 2 more screenplays; she didn’t get paid for them unless they were made into movies and they never got made and she never got paid. She also wrote a nice science fiction novel. She spent money hiring a good editor and also had another author, one who is earning money currently selling his 9th or 10th successful book, to review it for her. She shopped it around a couple of places and then gave up. In my humble opinion she should have kept sending out query letters to different publishers. I’ve heard quite a few stories about best sellers that publishers turned down and then probably could have kicked themselves for it when the book was profitable.

    My daughter has written bio sheets for musicians, she has/had a wonderful website related to country music artists (until someone hacked it and she has pretty much temporarily dismantled it) and she authored a few articles for a variety of music magazines and on and on.

    But, if she had never sold anything, she would still be a writer because she has written stuff for public consumption.

    Sorry, this turned out to be a “praise my daughter” post which I didn’t mean, but the bottom line is: If you wrote something you intend for public consumption, then you are a writer!

    Stick with it and query query query until you find someone who will buy.

    Also, I don’t know if anyone else has suggested this or not, but I strongly recommend if there is a writers’ club of some kind within easy travel of the place where you are moving, get involved with that. According to the guy I referenced earlier whose 9th or 10th profitable book comes out next month, being involved with a writers’ club is very helpful. He just won Edgar Award for Best Novel at the Mystery Writers’ Association Awards. They critique each others’ work; they provide ideas if you are stuck on a plot item and they can provide reinforcement for you to keep going.

    I wish you the best in your move and in perhaps finding fellow writers to brainstorm and commiserate with as you work on your projects.



    1. Awesome advice, as always, ladies. I appreciate the time you all take to impart your wisdom. Many, many, many thanks! All things I needed to hear. God bless!

  8. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it sounds like you are making progress. I really enjoy this blog and the BSF insights you share are proof that you’re a smart cookie with plenty to say. I just got a book published myself– it took me three years from start to finish. Many times I felt discouraged, just like you write about here. Sometimes little things would happen that encouraged me to keep going. One time, I was at a red light, and I closed my eyes. I imagined myself holding a finished copy of my book. Someday, the pieces would all come together… and people would read my book… and be inspired by it. So I’m sitting in my car, waiting for the light to change, when I hear this tapping sound. I opened my eyes, I noticed a man in the car next to me. He was in the passeneger seat, and he was waving at me to roll down my window. He said, “Whatcha thinking about, cause I sure could use a little bit of happiness right now.” Yikes, a complete stranger! I noticed he was dressed in a business suit, so he was probably on his way to work. Surely it would be ok to chat with him a few seconds. So I yelled back, “I’m writing a book… and I was just imagining what it would be like to get it published.” The light changed and he yelled back, “that’s gonna be some book!” He gave me a thumbs up, and drove off. It was the little bit of encouragement that I needed to finish my manuscript. (LOL)

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