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I am nothing. I am a single grain of sand amongst billions. I am a single voice within a crowd. I am human, I am god, I am here, and this is what I have to say:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fundamentals

I just read this over on Rebecca Emrich's Blog Living a Life of Writing http://www.rebeccasbook.blogspot.com/. Apparently, someone had sent her an email regarding her thoughts on what makes a writer able to call themselves a writer. The email disturbed me enough to write a rebuttal that I feel deserves it's own spot on my blog that I would like to open up for conversation.

"To suggest to such a degree that writers are anyone who writes is absurd. The only possible way to prove oneself as a writer is to make enough money to be self sustaining. Otherwise, there is no hope for the "writing career" of said writer. Only jokers are willing to sacrifice themselves for a dream. To many people fancy themselves writers and spend time poking at a computer. They don;t have a job to refer to, other than their dream. I say again it is a dream... no money they are not a writer, they are a dreamer. Dreamers need to come down from their clouds and get a real job. I suspect that writers who don't make money have someone who backs their delusions up.... I repeat again all writers without money are dreamers."

So unless I missed the jist here, the emailer is trying to say that the only way you can call yourself, and expect to be recognized, as a writer, is by the amount of money you make? I disagree, for numerous reasons.

There are plenty of writers that do so only for the pure joy and love of writing. They have other financial means of sustaining themselves. The author of the email was quick to say that they believe someone else often supports them. This may be true in some cases, but it is also equally likely they support themselves with another, or even, multiple jobs and should also be acknowledged.

Personally, I know more than one writer that I would classify as a writing hobbyist, as they are not writing for means of an income but means of personal entertainment. Alot of times they may submit their work to magazines that do not pay or use it for other purposes. The simple fact alone that they are not making money with their writing, does not invalidate it by any means, and such a statement, I must say, is absurd.

I could go on and on about the many publishers in existance that do not pay when they publish submitted work. Yet they have no trouble getting submissions. Obviously publishing in itself is a form of recognition for any writer.

I could also write a small novel talking about the snowball effect that Rebecca mentioned, but I'll just say, everyone has to start somewhere.

It is sad for me to read this person's comment and see that some people have such a narrow point of view. Sadder still, is that they feel so strongly about it they must write discouraging and harsh words to portray their feelings. But the real issue here is the fact that the emailer, who is certainly entitled to his/her opinion, is a bit ignorant on the topic and should have educated themselves on it before portraying personal opinion as fact.

As I wrote before in my guest blog for Rebecca, back in June, if you are writing just for money you and your work alike will both show for it. And more likely than not the work will be terrible.

Above all else the main reason authors succeed is because of their passion to write and not their desire to become rich. Look at some statistics, unless you are a select few writers as a majority are not wealthy.

So I ask you, if you aren't writing for money alone, how is it logical that money can be the only measure to which you can mark your success?

If you aren't familiar with Rebecca Emrich's work or her blog, go check it out. Here's a link: Living a Life of Writing


Rebecca said...

At some point I'll send you teh email in its whole outline... you'll "love it"

AmberInGlass said...

I have, no doubt, thanks, Rebecca! I was thinking of how to best get back into the game today after being away so long, and your post, prompted me to do just that.

Alissa said...

I think the person who wrote this email is confused. Perhaps the only way to be a "professional writer" is to be making a living writing, but all it takes to be a writer is passion, creativity and a little bit of time to try and capture all those stories and words dancing through your head.

Plenty of historic folks who we now refer to as artists may not have been professional artists, in that they were able to sustain themselves solely through their creative works, but looking at one of their paintings it is clear that professional or not, they were artists.

If you are a writer, you know you are a writer, and it doesn't matter what any other misguided individuals say.

AmberInGlass said...

Well said, Alissa, thanks for the comment.

PrettySiren said...

The more I read that person's email, the more I believe they should take a running jump off a short pier (as the shock of the water might clean out their brain).

Kidding aside, I totally agree with you, Andrew.

It just makes me angry to know that most people out there, sadly, would side with the email's author. When people who aren't writers learn that I'm a writer, they always ask how much I make. Many scoff when I tell them it's not a six figure income.

It's sad. Honestly, I think there needs to be like a writer's awareness thing to promote writers as well...writers, even if they aren't paid that much (or at all).

AmberInGlass said...

I really like your idea of a writer's awareness, Carrie. Maybe we should petition to make July 17th Writer's Awareness Day. After all, they have official days for just about everything under the sun.

Writers may even have an awareness day already that I just don't know about. I should look into it.

The point is, there are alot of things about writing that many people, both authors and otherwise, are not aware of.

There are writers out there, with the misconception that they can write their first book, sell it, and make tons of money right away. This is rarely the case.

Actually, there are alot of misconceptions about writers and writing in general and reading opinions like the one in this email does nothing to help guide people away from misconceptions.

Ashbee said...

I used to believe that only professionals could call themselves writers but not any more. It's what I do every day, it makes me happy and if I don't find time to write I miss it. That's now my criteria for a writer - someone who has to write even if it's purely for the pleasure of doing so...any other view is wrong in my eyes.

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

Some people write emails such as these because they are jealous of those who do follow their dreams and enjoy their lives. I do not know the motivation of this emailer but he sure sparked alot of writing from people who "aren't writers". LOL.

AmberInGlass said...

Ashbee, I like your definition of a writer, it seems fair and straightforward. Thanks for checking out my blog and leaving a comment.

BeckyJoie, I liked what you had to say about this email on Rebecca's blog. It's true, the author really did give us non-writers a chuckle, and they certainly have given us alot to discuss. Thanks for continuing to come by my blog and contributing to the conversation.

Alice said...

IMO, money has nothing to do with it. I think a writer is someone who writes and an author is someone who has been published, whether for no money or for millions of pounds.

Uninvoked said...

I am a published author. I have been paid professional rates for my short stories in the past, and at my usual rate of two stories per month (when I'm not playing around with noveling blogs) I could survive on the money earned from my stories.

It's not enough, and it doesn't make me a writer.

What makes me a writer is the hours I spend at the keys, the notebook I keep tucked in my pocket at my other job (Which I love as much as writing, else I wouldn't be doing it.) the 2AM writing sessions, the hours at starbucks...the "That's beautiful. Let me write that down."

THAT is what makes me a writer. My noveling blog, which is free for anyone to read and actually costs me money makes me more of a writer than all those paid works.

I strongly object to this persons email, and believe him to be in error.