What it is to be a writer? #authottoolbooxbloghop

Here is the next article as part of the #Authortoolboxbloghop organised by author Raimey Gallant.

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join.

This post will be a bit like a modernist stream of consciousness, but hopefully something good will come out of it. I’ll try to find out what being a writer means for me.

I think it’s everybody’s right to decide if they want to call themselves a writer or not. I personally don’t like tags because labelling someone always reduces that person to that one characteristic (woman, man, catholic, heterosexual, gay, etc.) although we are all much more complex than that. To me, labelling ourselves (officially) as a writer is a bit similar. When I’m asked what I do, I answer that I’m a teacher, but I’ll soon try to mention that I also write. If my unsuspecting interlocutor shows signs of interest I even send them some of my writings.

I’ve recently read somewhere that we shouldn’t think of ourselves as nouns because those are already decided, fossilised things, we should be verbs because they’re in a constant flux and they are active. Instead of being „writers” we could be „writing.”

Now that I think of it, I’d probably make my “writer” label primary if I earned my living from writing, but that’s still a long way off for me. In the meantime, I’m writing relentlessly and I advise to anybody who’d like to be a writer to do the same. Instead of thinking about labels, we should just write without any premeditated carrier plans. We should write because it makes us happy and gives us something nothing else does.

Not everybody needs to be famous and I would even go as far as to say that not everybody needs to be published. Of course I also daydream about talking shop with Neil Gaiman, having my stories turned into movies of course with David Tennant and Tom Hiddleston in lead roles… but more realistically, if there is one person who felt a bit touched/ happy/ comforted by one of my stories/poems, it was already worth it.

But even if nobody reads me, for me writing is also a kind of self preservation / mental health thing which keeps my inner darkness from spreading. It’s a form of therapy, creativity helps to fight every day struggles.

I gave my short story collection to one of my students and he asked me if I was a sad person because my stories were all sad and dark. I told him that I was (usually) a very happy person, but it might be because I sublimate all my sadness into my stories.

My newest writing motto comes from the latest season of Doctor who and although it is originally about goodness I (also) adapted it to writing:

“Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage. Good is good in the final hour, in the deepest pit, without hope, without witness, without reward. Virtue is only virtue in extremis.”

I think a real writer writes even in the final hour, in the deepest pit, without hope, without witness, without reward.

To me, this stubborn will / passion to write is what distinguishes successful writers from those who give up. Finally another quotation, this time from Bukowski:

So I think if you sometimes doubt yourself, you’re on the right track.


My previous post in this blog hop:

Find my August #Authortoolboxblog hop post here.

Find my September #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.

Find my October #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.

Find my January #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.


7 thoughts on “What it is to be a writer? #authottoolbooxbloghop”

  1. What beautiful sentiment. Thanks for sharing, Fanni. 🙂 I’m not sure the verb works to replace a lot of labels, but I like the idea for hobbies/professions, even some other things. I’m daughtering, I’m babysitting, I’m depressing. 🙂

  2. That DW quote is so inspiring. And I understand what you mean about labels.

    Quote: “But even if nobody reads me, for me writing is also a kind of self preservation / mental health thing which keeps my inner darkness from spreading.”
    I hear you. Blogging works the same way for me, to an extent, though I’m talking about other people’s books…

  3. I love that Charles Bukowski quote! It’s so true, especially with writing. I’m also intrigued by your thoughts on labelling. That’s going to require a little more thought …

  4. I missed your post last month, so I’m circling back. I liked reading your stream of consciousness. I have many of the same thoughts, although from a different perspective. I started writing late in life, not quite Grandma Moses-esque, but close. It’s hard to call myself a writer when I was other things for so long.

  5. Great thoughts here!

    This is a lengthy comment about one thing you mention. 🙂 I believe you don’t have to be published or make a living from it to call yourself a writer. (And I want to add I hardly make a thing from writing.) You just have to write to be a writer. And it doesn’t have to be daily either. I feel some confuse being an “author” with being a “writer.” Like when someone says, “I’m going to be a writer” when they find out they’ll be published. I view a writer as someone who writes a lot and loves to write. And I view an author as someone who is published.

  6. There is a lot of truth in the post. For me, the line that stood out was, “Instead of thinking about labels, we should just write.” Keep writing and embrace who you are whether that is a writer, teacher, philosopher, or none of the above. Thanks so much for sharing, Fanni.

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