For years I felt like I could never justify the scribblings that occurred in the back of my room, often for hours. I could justify it to myself, that I’m doing this so I can land this agent, this publisher, this whatever, but trying to tell anyone else that I was a writer sounded silly. I could easily say I was an editor because I do get paid for freelance gigs and have my own lit magazine, but a writer, never. I mean, how can you easily tell people that you’re a writer when you’ve never had a contract before? People want to know you’re making money off anything nowadays because then it makes more sense to them why you bother being a shut-in for months.
Now that I have a contract, it is so much easier for me to justify being a writer. “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a writer.” As well as my other various jobs that can earn me some cash. It’s also so much easier to tell people I need time to work on this new book. In fact, I told my fiancé yesterday I needed to leave his house early so I could finish the other chapter I started that day to meet my goal of doing two. I never would have done that before a contract. In fact, I would have felt guilty knowing that because I didn’t really have a career, there would have been no reason to leave my fiancé and that my time with him is invaluable. It still is more valuable, but I want to build my career to possible full-time writer, and to do that, I have to keep writing.
Why is it so much easier to justify being a writer now that I can officiate my career as a writer? Why can’t people just understand that art isn’t going to bring immediate results? In fact, why do I feel the need to justify anything to people who really don’t get it? After all, I have no problem telling people that I am an adult ballet dancer, even though I am far from being a professional. I proudly claim that title because so many adults wish they could do ballet but are afraid to and I am one of the few that doesn’t fear being a late starter.
If I can easily claim the title of adult ballet dancer, then I should be able to claim the title of writer without a contract under my belt. However, people think you’re so much more interesting when you tell them you’re a ballet dancer, especially when the ballet community is so small. They’ll tell you they did it when they were younger and wished they’d never quit. They’re convinced it’s too late, and perhaps that’s just it. People see an age limit on ballet and think you’re awesome for defying that and you don’t have to justify the sweat you pour into ballet by saying you get paid for it. Because I don’t. In fact, I spend my own money on ballet classes, leotards, tights, pointe shoes, soft shoes, knowing I am never going to get paid for doing what I do.
But with writing, there is no age limit. Anyone can pick up a pen and write. Every single person on earth is technically a writer because all people have picked up some utensil to communicate through writing at one point or another. This is when it becomes problematic to justify only you are a writer. You’re the one who picks up that pen or keyboard or whatever and puts serious thought into what you write. You’re the one who spends hours researching to build incredibly believable worlds and believable characters. You’re the one who writes because you want to, not because it’s some school assignment. You are a writer because you want to go beyond what everyone else does with his/her writing. You don’t need money to justify your sweat. All you need is you and hard work and your dream. So let’s all keep the Writer’s Manifesto with us and tack it somewhere on our hearts so that way the next time someone asks what we do, we can say we’re writers and no one bats an eye.