On Being a Writer

Writing is an individual thing, and whatever life love affair or obsession a person might have with writing is unique. Most writers cannot begin to understand why anyone else writes, but sometimes they know why they do. Some do it for their own sanity, as they know it is something they must do. Others do it during manic periods of inspiration, or emotion. And still others are methodical and measured as they sit down to re-create the world.

Whatever the reason, there is a distinct difference between “a writer” and “a person who writes,” which is a matter of self-determinism. Which are you? As editors, we often encounter people who look to us for validation. We hear, “Now that my book is published, does that make me a real writer, officially?” We find the question awkward and absurd, because to us the answer should be obvious (we call it “the Pinocchio complex”). Being a writer is a matter of self-definition, an intuitive supposition. Thus no person has the authority to dub you a writer, and being published does not validate you, meaning you are a “real author.”

Whether nature or nurture, writers simply know who and what they are—long before they are ever published, long before anyone else knows or believes. No external validation is required. So if you are a writer, you already know it, and no one will ever be able to convince you that you are anything else.

In the video below, Elizabeth Gilbert shares her unique experiences, perspective and creativity as a writer. She is the author of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Her book is a 2006 memoir that remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks and was made into a movie by Columbia Pictures, staring Julia Roberts. In this 2009 talk for TED in Long Beach, California, Elizabeth becomes transcendent in her own “moonlit dance,” on fire, a true inspiration! ¡Ole! ¡Ole! ¡Ole! Elizabeth!

As writers, it is next to impossible to listen to Elizabeth without reflecting on our own personal relationship with our craft and the way the world had responded to us. No doubt, we have all dealt with those dear souls who have been supporting even, upon reflection, when we were aspiring, but not yet very talented. And always, we have met the kind, well-meaning detractors, with intentions to save us from bitter disappointment and lives of poverty.

And so, we would like to challenge all authors who visit to follow -up this post with a post of your own, describing your relationship with writing and your experience being an author. In this post, we would like you to include the following: What are your earliest writing memories? When did you first discover your passion for writing? Were you encouraged by friends and family?

What were the biggest challenges for you early on, and what challenges do you face now? Why do you write? Where does your writer’s voice originate? What is your creative process? What do you want to say to the world throughout time? What have you written? How do you gauge your successes and failures? And finally, what are you working on now? We will include your posts along with ours in this blog’s category on our Pegasus Books and Parnassus Press websites.

Please feel free to repost this one on yours. We look forward to sharing your experiences as authors!


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