By Isabo Kelly
Even if the question is asked with simple, polite interest, when you’re not published yet this can make you feel like you’re not a real writer. Julie Cameron, in THE RIGHT TO WRITE, calls this a “credibility attack”—the feeling that you have to be published to call yourself a writer, which is a load.… If you write, regularly and with an eye toward honing your skills as an author; if you keep churning out stories month after month and year after year, you are a writer!
Publishing is nice but far less important than getting your butt in the chair everyday and hacking out that next sentence, paragraph, and page. Just finishing your beloved manuscript is more than a lot of people ever do. Remember that and be proud of the accomplishment. “But Isabo,” you say, “I do have something published, but it’s only…” Stop! Even when we can answer this dreaded question with a yes, we want to qualify our achievement:
“I’ve had a few non-fiction pieces published, but I haven’t been published in fiction yet, so I’m not a real author.”
“I’ve been published but only in the small press.”
"I’m not really making any money as a writer.”
These qualifications diminish the accomplishments made to date, and imply that you have to be Nora Roberts before you can call yourself an author. Wrong, wrong, and oh very wrong. Non-fiction publication is published. Small press publication is published. As for making enough money writing to live on—well, I know big name authors who aren’t doing that yet (promoting a book eats up advances quickly).
If you write, you’re a writer. That’s all there is to it. And you should say so with pride. The next time someone asks you this question, if you’re not published anywhere yet, say “I’m working on it” and know with full confidence that you are. No more justification is required for calling yourself a writer. If you are published in anything at all—non-fiction, short stories, small press—announce with no qualifications, “Why, yes I am.” You’ll feel brilliant and professional.♥
Isabo Kelly (aka Katrina Tipton) is the author of multiple science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romances. Her Prism Award Winning novel, SIREN SINGING, has just been released in paperback from Ellora’s Cave (www.ellorascave.com). For more on Isabo’s books, visit her at www.isabokelly.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: In this monthly series, Isabo talks about the often uncomfortable questions every author gets asked, and how to handle those dreaded inquiries. If you have gotten any of these “dreaded” questions, please share them with us; and, if you have an answer, all the better.