What makes me a writer? Am I an author? Who cares – well, besides me? But these are questions I think about when I’m not busy doing other things. What is it that makes me be what I want to be?

Not getting too philosophical here, but really, how far down a path do we need to travel before we decide to commit to the path?

I am a writer because I write stuff. I write essays, short stories, blogs, and even have a pitiful novel of sorts sitting here on the hard drive. But most literate people write stuff as well. If you write an e-mail, are you now a writer? You’ve written something. Almost all of would agree that letters and e-mails don’t make one a writer.

If you write longer pieces do you become a writer? Is it the word count that matters or is it an audience? Does one become a writer when one is published, even if only on a blog? I’ve been published in a variety of other places as well, so I have that part covered. I’ve even been paid.

Ah, paid. Does that now make me an author? I was writing for an online news outlet, so instead of an author, am I now somehow a journalist? But I was publishing a different volume of essays from my Little Bits of History work. I was publishing the same things as I put on my blog, but someone actually paid me for the work.

 

Daunting and taunting - the blank page

 

Regardless of whether or not I am a writer, an author, or even a journalist – no matter the name applied, I’m faced with the same problem with each writing project. The blank page. The scary, terrifying, horrifying, taunting blank page.

When I sit down to write anything, I start with a blank page. There is nothing on it and it is begging to be filled with squiggles. The task is to create the right blend of squiggles to create something I can be happy with, something I’m not ashamed to put “out there” and something other people will wish to read after I hit the “Publish” button.

Some days are easy. I have the idea before I sit down in front of the blank page. Some days, I think I should write something and so flip open the computer and fire up Word. There sits the daunting blank page – waiting. Always waiting. “Fill me” it seems to whisper as I cast about for a topic.

“Write what you know” is one writing adage. “Write for your audience” is another. Well, I know stuff. I even know lots of stuff. Most of it is not anything an audience would care about. Some of it is even stuff I wouldn’t like to admit I know. For example, I love gossip. It is a mean and lowly occupation, but nevertheless, I love gossip. I can’t write about the gossip I’ve collected for two reasons. The first is it is unseemly. The second is, my gossip is so local, no one else would care.

I’ve been writing about my days here in sunny South Carolina and sometimes that seems to work all right. Lately, I’ve been carried away with lack of topics and seem to have been writing about walking like this is some miracle. Now, Frankie learning to walk was in fact some miracle. My wandering about isn’t. I’m old. I’m supposed to be able to walk. Really, how can this be a topic?

But maybe that is the point for a writer. To take the everyday, the mundane, and breathe new life into it. To take a subject we all understand and explore it in a different light. That sounds pretty impressive. It also sounds like rationalization. I don’t have anything else to write about, I will take this mundane topic and add my personal spin, the zest of the moment, and create something an audience would like to read.

Possibly.

Probably not.

I have permitted myself to call myself a writer. I’m pretty sure I’m not an author. At least not yet. I don’t know how much more time I have to metamorphose from “writer” to “author” but according to my son, there is still plenty of it left. Perhaps I have time.

All I have to do is cover those blank pages with the proper squiggles.

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