Do you need publications to be a ‘real’ writer?
When I started my blog almost three years ago, I debated what I wanted to post. Obviously, at the time, I was looking to build a reader base. I wanted to share my writing with people, but that doesn’t always go as well as we like to think so I also thought about writing about writing. However, I was often deterred from this by people because one singular reason:
You’re not published yet. How can you talk about writing?
At the time, I was furious. Of course, I also thought this statement had some truth in it. How could I talk about writing when I was obviously not a good enough writer to be published? My confidence (like every writer ever) was severely compromised. As such I gave up the idea of writing about writing even though I have LOTS of things to say about writing whether relating to my style or others.
And given that I am still a writer these few years later, I still want to talk about writing. In fact, I’ve gotten a crazy notion in my head that I’d like to become a writing mentor where I can guide, influence, and support wannabe writers or newer writers on their journey to becoming better writers. But again the question returns:
What makes you think you’re qualified to talk about writing/be a writing mentor?
Things have clearly changed because I do have a publication under my belt now. A small one. In an anthology, but a publication nonetheless. And that apparently means that I am now qualified to talk about writing and offer my guidance to newer writers, but… I personally don’t feel like anything has changed with becoming published. Yeah, someone liked my story enough to put it in a book that people pay for. But it’s not like there is some MAGICAL button that was pushed that makes me “official” or makes my writing “glorious” or whatever the qualifications are that allow people to talk about writing and mentor. Frankly, nothing has changed.
I am still rejected just like non-published (and published) writers. I still write garbage like non-published (and published) writers. I just happened to get lucky in writing a story and submitting it to a person who liked it. Literally, the only difference between me and unpublished writers is that I got lucky.
That’s it. I know, crazy, right? But that’s literally all traditional publishing is at the end of the day: Luck. You write something that people want to publish at the time that you submitted to them. In my experience, the fact that you are published actually doesn’t have much of anything to do with how long you’ve been writing, what you write, or how WELL you write. It’s just a matter of timing (and maybe a little networking.)
Reflecting on all of this and the countless writers I have met who are amazing and write really well and who have helped me in my own writing, I really have to analyze why people think you’re not a true writer until you’re published? Why are you not qualified to talk about writing until that ONE person tells you that you’re good enough?
I don’t know why people believe this, but I think it’s garbage! I think it’s back-ass-wards ideals of people (most often times NOT writers) impressing their views of success and qualifications on a SEVERELY subjective line of work that can not be determined by a degree or number of publications or anything like that.
But what do you think?
Do publications equal a ‘real’ writer?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week: