I’ve been thinking about this for several months now. When can I call myself a writer?
It’s been just over a year since I left my last long-term employment. Sure, I spent those three disastrous months working for John Lund over at Lund Cadillac, but I don’t really count them. I’ve been doing contract work for various clients in the meantime, and also trying to be a writer. So at what point can I actually say when I meet people, “I’m a writer”?
I actually am a published playwright. You can buy my play, Inside Al, from Samuel French or now through Amazon.com. But I wrote that play when I was a senior in high school … way back in 1987. During high school and college, my goal was to eventually make my living with words, but it’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve really gotten back to producing book-length stuff.
Here’s where I am in terms of my writing:
Project 1: My novel, Drop House, is complete at about 136,000 words. I finished the manuscript last spring, and have been working several angles to try to get it in front of an agent, editor or publisher. I think I’m getting closer, but it’s taking lots of time. I actually began the novel in the late summer of 2010, and it wasn’t until I was suddenly out of work that I could find the time to put in the work required to get it complete.
Project 2: I’m just finishing up a ghostwriting project for a client. I can’t disclose title or subject (or the name of my client), but the book-length work is mostly complete at about 62,000 words. I’m actually getting paid (woohoo!) for this project, and the client will handle the publishing side of things.
Project 3: I’m well into my next novel, a follow-up to Drop House. It has some of the same characters, and occurs a year after the first novel happens. This project, which I’ve been calling WIP2 (WIP = Work in Progress) is about 2/5 of the way complete at about 57,000 words. As always, I’m having to go back and rewrite substantial sections as I figure out where the story is heading. That’s just how it goes.
Project 4: Early in the year I began a full rewrite of a young adult novel I produced almost 2 decades ago: Haole Boy. I haven’t touched the manuscript since February, but it’s mostly drafted at about 68,000 words. I haven’t had anybody read it since I completely rewrote the thing, so I have no feedback at all about the current draft.
So … there it is. Am I a writer? Since I’m writing almost every day, I would say probably yes. Am I a professional writer? If you count the ghostwriting, I guess you could say I’m making money at my craft. I’m a published playwright (and have been for over 20 years, but I’m not yet what I really want to be: a published novelist.
But when I introduce myself to people, I don’t think I can say, “I’m a writer.” Not yet. Not until I get one of these book-length manuscripts in print and on people’s shelves. All I can do at this point is keep working toward that goal…