Rarely do I mention my second job - online news writing and editing - because I figure most people really don't care anyway. Which is true, they probably don't, but even if they did my point is I wouldn't bring it up without prodding.
I sure as hell don't broadcast that I am writing a book (I save that for between me and you here on the blog, because who could see it, right?). That brings up honest questions from people I never know how to answer, if I even know the answer. I don't know where this is going or how it will get there or any of that, and to be honest I haven't thought too far ahead because I'm more worried about the steps I can control.
You know, write the damn thing first, then worry about the agent/publisher/book tour/how to spend millions. Or something like that.
So I find it hard to identify myself as a writer because of that. To me a writer is someone who gets paid to write, which isn't quite where I am at the moment. To me it's a place I'd like to be, but I don't have the resume to back up the claim.
But today, I had a moment.
Yesterday I finished the second draft of my novel. I added something like 40 pages and 12,000 words to the second draft, incorporating seven more chapters, another minor storyline, and another character's point of view (this was already multi-POV). For a class I am taking about structure my instructions were to then print out the full story and approach it like a reader would (as best as possible knowing what will happen next and knowing the background of the characters that doesn't get put on the pages).
To that end I dumped the 300 page Word document onto a flash drive and stopped by FedEx Office (apparently Kinko's isn't in the name anymore and will live only in my memory) to print there, so I didn't burn through a full ink cartridge on my tiny home laser printer. After it was printed ($32?! Are you kidding me?! You know how many e-books I can buy for that?!) the woman helping me brought it to the counter for my approval. Another customer standing next to me, being helped by another employee, turned to me and said:
"Oh, wow, did you write a book?!"
My first instinct here was to brush it off, to just smile and let the moment pass, and for a split-second I almost did.
But you know what? Then I thought, "Fuck it. I DID write a book. I am PROUD of the fact I WROTE A BOOK. So yes, I did."
Out loud I said this: "I did." And smiled politely.
"That's so amazing!"
"Well, it's just a draft..."
"That's way more than I have ever done. That's great!"
Then the employee helping me weighed in: "The most I've ever written is a couple poems. That IS amazing."
Now I'm just embarrassed and want to spend my $32 and leave, but at the same time part of me is pretty damn proud. I am a writer.
It's funny, I just read this post yesterday evening by young adult writer Kiersten White (author of Paranormalcy - good read - and next-week release Supernaturally) on inkpop.com and she talked about what made her think of herself as a writer. She lists four things she felt made her an actual writer, but the one that resonates most with me - right now at least - is the fourth one about giving yourself permission.
This, for me, was the most important stage leading up to hitting the next level in my writing. Before, I'd always treated it as a hobby. Something that I did for fun in my spare time. I'd only talk about it if people pressed me, if they specifically asked, and even then I kind of brushed it off dismissively ... Because if I didn't claim to be serious about it, if I didn't admit how much I loved it and how big a goal getting published was, if I didn't CLAIM to be a writer, then it wouldn't matter if I failed.
Yes, yes, and more yes. She nailed it. That, I think, is a little bit why I feel the way I do.
Well guess what? Maybe I don't feel that way anymore. Or maybe I'm at least on the road to being more confident.
Published writers all, when they talk about their journey, discuss "moments" along the way that told them they could do this in a big-time way. Maybe this is one of mine, and 10-15 years from now I can look back on this, point at it, and say there. That's when it all began to change.
Crazier things have happened.