I like to consider myself to be a writer. Others, upon hearing that my major is Professional Writing, automatically consider me to be a writer. I’m not complaining about that, but I’ve begun to wonder about the criteria by which I can claim the title “writer”. I’m certainly not published; I have this blog, but I only update sporatically; I’ve taken a creative writing class, but only half of the things I wrote for it seem acceptable to me; I’ve created the enjoyable piece of poetry or prose now and then; but other than that, what can I claim? To what can I cling and wave above my head and shout, “Look, world! I’ve done it! Here’s the proof!”
I’m probably being too hard on myself; I know enough about writing to know that it doesn’t “just happen”. It takes discipline, almost more than inherent skill, to become a good writer. Even so, I have several writerly friends who are much more consistent, or entertaining, or creative than I am; at least, it seems that way, sometimes.
I’m thinking about this because I’ve got an opportunity to become published; for real. Not to degrade James’ blog, where he’s featured a poem of mine, or blog-writers in general, but one can’t deny the difference between being “self-published” and having another critic review your works and say, “Hm. Yes, this is good enough for our publication. We can put our name behind this and be proud.”
There is a literary magazine getting started at my university, and for the past two weeks I’ve been seeing flyers everywhere inviting all creative-types to submit their work for possible publication in the spring issue. Poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, photography, paintings, music; any creative expression you can think of (almost), and they want submissions. What an opportunity! Granted, it’s a small, university publication that’s only just getting up-and-running, but it’s something. You can’t expect The New Yorker to be interested in your work if the little fishes in your own hometown aren’t interested in your work.
I’m determined to submit a few poems, maybe some prose. I’ve really been wanting to sit down and write something new, but I haven’t had the time, with finals and final project deadlines right around the corner. Submissions are due this Friday, though, so I’ve got to come up with something.
And you know what? Business (that’s, “busy-ness”) be damned. Everyone’s busy. I’m going to be busy for the rest of my life, be it with school or work or a family (or all three). If I want to call myself a writer, I’ve just got to do it. Perhaps sacrifice a show or two on Hulu and spend an hour writing instead. But I think that consistency is key. If I can’t commit to writing at the same time every day, maybe I can at least spend the same amount of time writing every day. I went out and bought myself a moleskin journal that I can use for ideas and outlines and rough drafts, and it’s still sitting in its shrink-wrap on our bookshelf.
Today. I will start today. Because if I don’t start today, I won’t start ever.