Monday, August 24, 2009

Are You Really a Writer? Some Writers' Realities

I've been thinking lately, about what really makes a writer. Well, for starters, one person, whether or not a writer him or her self, cannot judge whether another is a writer. It's a stippery devil, defining that. And you never now what motivates another or what goes on in another's head.

There are, however, some realities that can provide some perspective for this issue.

First, almost all writers write while they do something else. Hold down a job, chase their kids, whatever. Only a tiny percentage of writers go to their computers and sit down to write without worrying about the bills or where the next writing gig will come from. Unfortunate but true.

Hmm, not what you wanted to hear? Me either really, but there it is. One can fret over it, curse the fates, rail against it, but all that doesn't do a whole lot of good.

And the question is, what makes a writer? I mean there's the person who's written since he or she was ten; has written stacks of short stories, kept journals filled with poetry and story notes, had worked on that first novel for years...Okay, yes, that person writes but is that person a writer by 'artistic' standards or by 'professional' standards?

Different contests, local art commissions and arts agencies define a writer differently, but in general it is a "professional artist producing work of high artistic quality. Individuals are considered to be professional if they earn at least part of their annual income in their artistic work (writing), consider their artistic endeavors as a career, maintain a high level of artistic quality, and make a significant time investment in their writing. A professional writer has some writing income appearing on a tax return, maintains a calender noting regular work or training undertaken as a writer. A working writer also has receipts for expenses." The previous quote is a conglomeration of several definitions of a writer. All of them apply. And as far as the government and taxes are concerned, the writer must be striving to earn money from his or her endeavors, it cannot be a hobby.

Along with all of this the writer must be developing his or her own style, developing his or her own voice. When something is written can it be picked up and identified as the style of a particular writer? Does the writer do more than slap words across a computer screen? Will the writer produce more than one piece of work or be a one shot wonder?

Worth thinking about if you really plan to be a writer.

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