Such a simple question, really. Nothing nearly as earthshaking as, “Did you murder your wife, Mr. Wetherington?” or “Honey, why are you wearing my lingerie?” So, why did it seem to give me such pause that time felt as if it had slowed while I considered all the possible answers?
The occasion for the question arose during a visit to a local bookstore this past Saturday afternoon. I had a coupon and it was burning a hole on my pocket. I already had three possible books in mind when I entered the store and two, it turned out, were not available. The third, Stephen King’s “On Writing” was not where I expected it to be under Writer’s Resources so I asked the clerk if he could check his inventory computer. He did and the last copy in the store was located in the fiction section, of all places. As I was presenting my coupon and payment for the book, he asked me that simple, almost sublime question…
“Are you a writer?”
I felt as if I were a deer, caught in the headlights of that probing, surgically incising question.
Indeed, am I a writer?
Other than a few software reviews I wrote 6 or 7 years back for a local Computer Club publication, none of my work has been in the realm of print and while I fully embrace the new technologies which make it possible for all of us to be “writers” on the Internet, part of me is still “old school” in defining a writer as someone who has written work that has been published in print. A book, magazine, or newsletter even.
And that’s not me…yet.
On the other hand, over the last few years I have written for several personal blogs, two hyperlocal blogs (one where my ability was sought out by a huge newspaper publishing conglomerate), a couple of personal travel blogs and I write articles and reviews about one of my childhood (ok, and adulthood) hobbies for another media site.
And all of that is writing.
Yet I still imagine that if I answer “Yes” to the question of “Are you a writer?” the next question will be, “What have you written?” and for most people that question really means, “Show me your book or magazine article” and, alas, I have none. Yet.
So I finally answered, “Yes, but all of my work is online, nothing in print” and he proceeded to tell me about a local writer’s group, if I was interested, that met at the store each month. I might have been if I weren’t just visiting his fair city.
It occurred to me later that, more and more lately, I HAVE been thinking of myself as a writer. A neophyte, without doubt and with a great deal to learn about this craft, but still, a writer in thought and deed.
I have a long way to go and not much time to get there, but yes, I AM a writer!
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