By Richard Jay Parker
I was speaking to a fellow writer this week - although she wouldn't call herself that. She feels that because she isn't published, she isn't a writer. A lot of writers have this attitude. If you feel inside yourself that you are a writer then you are. It's often other people's perception of you that causes the problems.
Every writer goes through periods when their material isn't getting out there. It doesn't mean they're suddenly not a writer.
Before your first piece of work gets picked up (unless you write purely for pleasure) it's a lot harder. Still doesn't mean you're not a writer though. Obviously the ultimate goal is to have your work published or your script shot. To you it legitamises all the hard work and is something tangible, something that you can point at.
Again this is based on what other people's definition of a writer is though. If you're at a party and you tell someone you're a writer the very next question is always 'What have you written? Anything I'd know?' It's a strange assumption - that all writers are involved in high profile, mainstream projects. Tell them you're still perfecting your craft and they're not interested. To them it's as if you've claimed to be a doctor when you're still at medical school.
Ask them what they do. You're an architect? Any famous buildings that I've been in? When are you going to design something I've heard of?
I think the truth of the matter is that a lot of people have considered being writers. Some dabble in it before giving up. It can often be an unrewarding and disheartening process so I certainly can't blame them for that. So when you say you're a writer it's almost an affront to some.
I know writers who have had plenty of work published but don't feel like they're writers because they don't do it full time. It's human nature to achieve something and immediately want the next thing. It's good for our development. Self belief is the key though and, although they might mean nothing to people at a party, try to enjoy every one of those small victories - a rejection letter that isn't a standard one and has some encouraging remarks, interest from an agent that didn't go as far as you wanted it but at least made you feel that your last project took you another rung up the ladder. They're a part of every 'successful' writer's journey.
What matters is that you believe you're making progress - however excruciatingly slow it seems.
If you've just received one of those standard rejection letters and you still find yourself sitting down at your keyboard to write something else because you just have to - then you're a writer. Don't let anyone tell you any different.
Info about Richard's novel and work at: http://www.richardjayparker.com/
READING FESTIVAL OF CRIME WRITING
will be appearing on a thriller panel in The Waterhouse Room, Reading Museum & Town Hall as part of Reading Festival Of Crime Writing. Books to be signed afterwards. Admission is free but you'll need a festival ticket. Hope to see you there.
Virtual Programme HERE