When Do You ‘Admit’ You’re A Writer?

The Writers Bureau have a new competition to win one of their freelance journalism courses this month.

See the picture of Mark Twain writing in bed? (Marian Keyes used to do that too, by the way*). Well, they just want you to write a funny caption to go with it.

It’s free to enter and you have to email your entry to: draw@writersbureau.com no later than 30th November. Worth a go, I think, if you’re interested in writing non-fiction.

More details and the full rules are here

When Do You Admit You’re ‘A Writer’?

We’ve joined the ‘Book Club’ in the village (or, as ‘im indoors inadvertently called it the other night,‘The Wine Club’! Hmm, Freudian slip or what?).

Anyway, we thought it was a good way to meet some people and drink some wine read books that we might not otherwise have read.

It was our second meeting this week and as I was spouting on about books (I’d read most of those they were suggesting for next time), a man next to me asked if I was a ‘literary’ sort of person?

“Urrrm. Yes, I suppose I am…”, I said.

Then he got all excited. “Oh, do you write?”

(this is the moment when I should have shut up or gone away. Or drunk some more wine).

“What have you written – we might have read your books!” he said – practically jumping up and down on the sofa by now.

It was all a bit embarrassing. Has this ever happened to you? You dare to admit that you ‘dabble’ a bit with writing and people press you for more information, thinking you must just be a shy novelist, with twenty books under your belt. And then they look very crestfallen (and slightly ‘cheated’), when you have to admit that it’s just a few short stories, poems and articles and no, you’re not actually famous… and well, you’ve lost them by then, haven’t you?!

I am never going to admit to being ‘a writer’ again!

*Marian Keyes says: I used to write in bed, starting when I woke up. I believe that creative work comes from our subconscious mind so I try to keep the gap between sleep and writing as minimal as possible.

Sounds like a great excuse for staying in bed all day, to me!

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10 Responses to When Do You ‘Admit’ You’re A Writer?

  1. Sara says:

    I recommend “How to be a writer” by Sally O’Reilly, in which she makes the case that it’s writing that makes you a writer and you should avoid anyone that doesn’t see it that way. Inspired by this book I decided that I was going to be a writer and that I would tell everyone else just as soon as I had some success. So far my secret has remained safe.

  2. This has happened to me a couple of times because I hate people thinking I’m a Lady Who Lunches (my kids go to nursery 2-3 days a week and I don’t want people to think I just paint my toe-nails and sit in coffee shops all day.) I just tell them I’m going to self-publish something soon and leave it at that. I see a distinction between saying I’m a writer and saying I’m an author. I won’t tell people I’m an author until I have a book they can buy, but sometimes people think you’re a journalist if you say writer. I am too humble though (or embarrassed) as I usually say, in answer to what do you write, oh just romances. like it doesn’t still take months to write a romance even if it isn’t going to win a Pulitzer prize. Maybe next time we should just lie? 😉

    • Amanda, it’s a tricky one, isn’t it? On the one hand, why should we hide our lights under a bushel and put ourselves down by saying we ‘just dabble’ or it’s ‘only romances’ but on the other hand, if you’re not a household name with novels published, some people think you’re making it all up or that you’re self-delusional!!

      • My worry is that I am self-delusional! 🙂 When I tried to be a full-time artist I was naive and assumed I’d get accepted by a gallery, no problems. (I was wrong.) Now I’m the other way and too scared to send my manuscripts to agents, just knowing I’m going to be rejected (not least because I just can’t get a first chapter right. It takes at least three chapters for me to get going!). I can at least now tell people I’ve been long-listed for a competition (Mslexia) which vaguely sounds like something.
        Then of course sometimes you meet the lovely people who are just so impressed that you’ve written anything it’s like you are a household name or something!

  3. Patsy says:

    There will always be those who think you’re not a proper writer unless you’re rich and famous but most people can understand that just as some good golfers, painters and cooks earn their living doing something else, not all writers write professionally.

    I am a writer!

  4. Susie says:

    The problem with writing is that success is measured by publications. This point was raised at a job interview several years ago. “You say you’ve done all these writing courses, but you’ve got nothing to show for it.” Going through it afterwards with my husband, we decided that being an unpublished (or minimally published) writer was the equivalent of playing in an amateur football team, but not winning any trophies.

  5. Linda says:

    The first time I had a story published I was thrilled (of course!) but I only told my closest family. Shortly afterwards, I went with my husband to his company’s Christmas party and was horrified to discover he’d told all his work colleagues – and boss – that I was a writer. It was so embarrassing, explaining to people I’d never met before that well, yes, I’d had a story published but it was only in a women’s magazine … And, yes, I’d written lots of other stories, except they hadn’t been published yet … (I didn’t mention all the rejections!)

    For years after that, if anyone asked what I did, I just mentioned whatever paid employment I had at the time. Only family and a few friends knew I was writing but if they asked me about it I always said it was just a hobby and shrugged off any publishing successes as ‘a bit of luck’.

    My big turning point came when we downsized after the children left home and I realised I could afford to give up my ‘proper’ job for a while and try writing full time. I registered as self-employed with the Tax Office and put Freelance Writer on the form. I can’t explain it, but making it ‘official’ gave my self-confidence a huge boost and now I don’t have a problem with admitting what I do!

  6. It’s funny isn’t it Helen, that no matter how many letters, poems, articles or short stories we write or have accepted, there’s always one who says,’maybe you’ll get to do a book one day.’ I grit my teeth like they’re stuck with super-glue and say .’yeeees.’ and think, well, not printable what I think. But all the build ups to the book are what get us to know our voice and style. The drinks/book event sound hillarious. As long as we put pen to paper, we are writer’s.

  7. Maggie May says:

    I am a writer
    I am a teacher
    I am a knitter
    I am a cook
    I am an artist
    I am Jack of all trades but master of none

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