Richard J. Anderson on being an “aspiring writer”:
After all, I hadn’t published a novel, sold a story, or landed a gig writing for pay in any form. Until something along those lines happened, I felt unfit to actually call myself a writer, no matter how much or how little I wrote. Dropping the qualifier has gone a long way to make sure I actually live up to the title I assign myself.
Great point. Often, the qualifier gives us an excuse to fail. If I call myself an “aspiring writer”, by definition, I don’t need to write everyday. I’m just aspiring. I might as well call myself a “struggling writer”. In that case, I pretty much can’t write everyday, or I wouldn’t be struggling, at least not in terms of output.
This website is the first instance where I’ve been writing creatively everyday. Up to this point, any possibility of calling myself a writer was tied to the fact that I was a pretty good English major. Any and all writing I did was for the classroom. Even then, I don’t think I considered myself a writer because I was only writing things out of fear for my GPA. Every college student has to write papers; what makes me a writer instead of them?
Like Richard, I felt I needed to have something to show for myself. Notebooks filled with original works of literary art. Articles published in newspapers and magazines. But that’s not true. As many have said, “A writer writes”, and I think they write because they want to, even when it’s hard.
Now that my academic career is winding down, I’ve been able to start writing this website consistently, Monday through Friday. I committed to publishing the site without fail for a month, succeeded, and kept on going.
I love it.
But the thing is, I still haven’t told anyone what I’m doing. I have zero readers. Does that mean I can’t call myself a writer? I don’t think so. Richard asserts it nicely:
I commit myself to writing, ergo I am a writer. No matter how good my work is, no matter how many or how few read my work, it’s still writing. If I do everything a writer does, I’ll be a writer.
Do I have aspirations for my writing? Of course. But having five readers or five thousand readers doesn’t make me any more or less of a writer. Readers don’t make a writer. Writing makes a writer.
I am a writer; I just happen to have an aspiring website.