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I meet a lot of people who are writing books. As a writer myself and a person who once thought maybe there was some elevation of status to be achieved by telling people I was writing a book, I found it annoying to meet so many others who were doing the same thing. When I would tell someone I was writing a book, they almost never said “Wow, that’s impressive,” or anything of the sort. The most common response was “Really? I’m writing a book too, let me tell you about it.”
It’s a paradox, then, that so many people seem to be writing (#amwriting trends on Twitter almost daily), and yet so few of the writing people that I meet will call themselves writers. They call themselves “aspiring writers”.
There’s an unfortunate value judgement inherent in that, I think. If these people have published a book, they call themselves writers, but until they publish a book they more often hide behind the term “aspiring”. Is it their feeling that only the publication of a written work validates them as a creative person to the degree necessary for them to admit to it publicly? Is it that they worry they’ll be perceived as arrogant if they remove the word “aspiring” from their definition of themselves? We’ve all seen those rubes on American Idol who think they can sing, when they clearly cannot, nobody wants to be that person. So when you, I, we call ourselves “aspiring writers” are we just protecting ourselves: you can’t criticize me for being imperfect, because I never claimed to be a Writer, I only said I’m “aspiring” to be one.
Stop calling yourself an aspiring writer. You’re not. If you access your imagination and put down what you see there in words on paper (or screen), you are a writer. You are a writer. And good for you. Congratulations, that is amazing. You are one who writes. You are one who tells stories. You can aspire to be better, and if you keep doing it you will be better. But you don’t have to hide, you don’t have to be shy. Be proud. You already are what you aspire to be.