While watching Hemlock Grove recently, I had an epiphany of sorts that bewilders me. I don’t think I see myself as a writer.
One of the characters in Hemlock Grove—I believe she’s about 15—tells everyone who cares (and many who don’t) that she is a novelist and that it’s important for her to understand people’s motivations. She says this right before asking a series of questions which are both obnoxious and insightful.
I want to slap that heifer bald-headed.
My knee-jerk reaction was to think, “Wench, you haven’t written shit. You’re no more a novelist than my intestinal leavings.”
I see this online, too. On dating profiles (gay ones, specifically, I imagine), people will say they are writers (or dancers, or models, or *yaaaaawn*). My first reaction in the modeling example, is to recall a Scott Thompson quote from Kids in the Hall. “’Modeling’ can mean a lot of things.” Ron Jeremy can be considered a model. William Hung could consider himself a singer. Stephenie Meyer, gods help us, can be considered a writer. That drunken sow you last saw galumphing around in the club also considers herself a part-time dancer.
My thought process on this disturbs me, so I had to ask myself: Is success the measure of what you feel in your heart? My mental answer was immediate: Hell no!
Then why this feeling about my status as a writer (or others')? Am I railing against perceived pretense? I don’t know. I am certain what I think means nothing to anyone but me, so I keep my mouth shut. (Until this entry, I suppose.)
I have always felt this way. It’s not that this haughty, jerkface attitude started when I got the acceptance for my novel. I love writing. I love reading what I write for myself (as most everything I write starts out), my first novel will be published on August 21st, 2013, and I have written little stories and snippets my whole life. Yet, I have never truly considered myself a writer. Not enough to proclaim myself so. Am I being too hard on myself, and therefore on others? I think it’s defining myself as a writer that kills my confidence.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m shy and (apparently) stupid. It’s not fair of me to judge others or myself against a prejudice I don’t even understand. What makes a writer? Anyone who loves to do it and does it, I guess.
Logically, that makes sense to me, but I don’t know when I will personally consider myself a writer. My editor recently outlined the few remaining steps I have before the fateful release day. She said something like, "And then you can call yourself an author!" But I don't feel it. I don't feel like it's on the horizon, either.
When will I feel it? When I am published? When I have ten books under my (fake) name? If I break into the mainstream? If I am ever fortunate enough to make a living off of my writing? If I ever manage to get critical acclaim?
I still don’t know.
What, really, makes a writer? And, ultimately, does it really matter if you’re doing what you love?