“I want this, too.”
Mike and I were in an antique store in Galveston, Texas. The pin read, ” For Progress in Writing.”
“Since I don’t win awards, I’ll just give myself one.”
“Oh, are you a writer?”
“Are you published?”
“Every day on the Internet.”
Her face turned and her husband went on to talk about a local author who was REALLY published. Her books were even translated into German. I held my tongue, knowing that I have more readers in Germany every month than I ever thought possible.
I wonder if Benjamin Franklin had to deal with that attitude.
Franklin apprenticed at a printing press, so he had access to his own publishing method. Just like me, he was able to print up his own thoughts. When Poor Richard’s Almanack was a hit, I wonder if people said, “Well, you printed it up yourself, so it’s not really a book.”
I used to think that making my living writing was validation enough. I do this full-time and survive on it. That should be enough, right? I guess not. Apparently it has to be on paper to count.
But then again, Mike has published nearly 100 books on real, live paper, and that’s still not enough for people. They say, “Those are computer books.” As if all the work Mike put into them wasn’t as valuable as writing yet ANOTHER vampire novel.
I wonder if Issac Asimov had to deal with that attitude.
Asimove wrote over five HUNDRED books, most of them technical. I wonder if people said, “No, how many REAL books have you written?” Did they discount all of his technical writing the same way they do Mike’s?
If someone paid me to drive a bus, then I would be a bus driver. No one would question it. No one’s face would turn when I told them it was a school bus, not a municipal bus. Even if I drove a bus for a charity and didn’t get paid for it, they would still consider me a bus driver. That’s not how it works for writers.
No wonder Emily Dickinson hid away in her home…
It is nearly six years later and I feel no more like a “real” writer than I did when I wrote this entry. I have published two books and I still feel like a fake writer. I get a minuscule paycheck from Amazon every month PROVING that I’m a “real” writer and I still feel like I’m faking it. My books have sold in countries all over the world, and I don’t feel like I have earned this pin.
It’s never enough.
Best seller’s lists, Pulitzer prizes, huge paychecks, movie rights… I don’t think any of these would be enough to prove to myself that I’m a real writer. And I know why.
It’s because I still have to prove myself. I still have to earn it. Every day, I sit in front of the computer and write. I MUST do it every day to be a writer. A pin doesn’t exempt me. A paycheck from Amazon doesn’t exempt me. A book sold in Japan or Great Britain doesn’t exempt me. In order to be a writer, I need to WRITE every single day.
It doesn’t matter what other people think. It doesn’t matter how that lady’s face in an antique store in Galveston, Texas turned sour. It doesn’t matter how proud my friends and family are of me. The ONLY thing that matters is if I get my body in front of the computer and put words on the screen.
I only earn that pin when I have done some writing today and every day until I die.