Sometimes I’m embarrassed to tell people I’m a writer. This is not a good thing. Yet, I think it’s something that a lot of writers struggle with. Why do we do this? Why is it hard to own up to the fact that we like to write stories?
I tend to think that once I have an agent, I’ll feel more legitimate and I won’t be afraid to tell people that I’m a writer. Or maybe when I have a book deal. Or maybe when I’m published. Maybe if I hit the bestsellers list…
This is a stupid mentality to have. I feel like nobody will take me seriously as an author unless I’m published. But people can say they like playing basketball even if they aren’t in the NBA. They can say they like playing piano without being a concert pianist. What makes writing different?
I think it’s because writing seems like this sort of mystical process. People know that a basketball player has to master their jump shot and a pianist has to master their scales. Everyone is aware just how many hours it takes to master these skills. Nobody seems to know what skills a writer has to practice, though, or just how many hours go into learning how to write.
Because most people don’t understand what it takes to be a great writer, they tend to think anybody could write a book if they felt like it. That attitude rubs off on us writers and gives us unrealistic expectations about our craft. We feel like our writing isn’t worth mentioning unless it’s been somehow legitimized by the publishing industry, be that through having an agent or having great sales.
The truth is, though, that if you write, you’re a writer. You don’t need to wait for some sort of legitimization from the publishing industry or the reading community or whoever to claim authorhood. I have a personal goal to own my love of writing more than I do now. I hope you do too.
Because you’re a writer. And even if nobody else recognizes it, that’s pretty cool.
Kyra Nelson in a YA author and freelance editor. She spent two years interning for A+B Works literary agency and has helped teach publishing industry classes at Brigham Young University. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in linguistics and is researching vocabulary in YA literature.