Call Yourself a Writer

When do you start calling yourself a writer? Author Matthew Munson offers his opinion.

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© 2015 Matthew Munson / Used With Permission

When do you start introducing yourself as a writer? When do you consider that as a career path? I don’t earn enough to be a full-time writer yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a writer; on that basis, a lot of people couldn’t ever class themselves as a writer or an author or whatever you want to call yourself.

I started calling myself a writer when I had my first book published back in October 2011. That was such a wonderful experience, and it gave me the confidence to believe that I was allowed to consider myself a writer. However, I wish I had started earlier. I love words and language, and can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write in some capacity. It took me a while to appreciate the fact that I was allowed to write, and I simply refused to acknowledged my desires to anyone until I felt I could justify my writing existence.

Even when I’d had a couple of short stories published in two different anthologies, I still saw it as a bit of a hobby. I didn’t want to dream that I could do this professionally; why would I? How could I? Then came that fateful day when I had my book accepted by Inspired Quill.

But a lot of people consider themselves a writer without having a novel published, and that’s equally valid. Bloggers, reviewers, creators of short stories, people who are working on a novel; they are writers. Yes, they might be published on a blog or in an anthology, but that’s not necessary; that first book you’re working on can easily make you a writer, even though it’s not been published yet—and self-publishing something can make you a writer as well.

It’s interesting, you know; when people ask you what you do, and you tell them that you’re a writer, people then fall into two camps. Some are interested in how the process works, ask careful, thoughtful questions about being a writer and are fascinated by creative forces. Others take a different tack; some will ask, “So what have you had published?” and they believe no-one can be a writer until they’ve got an ISBN attached to their names.

The other thing you get asked frequently is, “How are the royalties going?” You get asked about your finances more in this industry than a lot of others; there’s a certain assumption that you’ll willingly talk about your finances, book sales and publisher relationships without batting an eyelid. There have been occasions—mercilessly infrequent—when people have almost scowled at me for being either reluctant to talk about the exact royalties I earn or for not knowing how many books have been sold at that moment.

My royalties aren’t yet enough to live on, so there’s more work to be done. That doesn’t, however, prevent me from being a writer; it’s my passion, my first love and the thing I don’t actually consider work. For me, it’s a vocation, and something I care about beyond mere words. It’s a genuine, visceral delight to express my own thoughts, feelings and opinions through the written word. The fact that people choose to read what you’ve written—this post, my books, whatever it may be—is a strange one. That makes me a writer nonetheless; not because I’m being particularly immodest, but because I’m a lover of language and because I write. Nothing else matters; it really is as simple as that.

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Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.

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