On Bill Moyer's new show on PBS, "Moyers & Company", the Poet Chis Wiman said that he hadn't written a poem in two months and he doesn't feel like a poet. He said that when he writes a poem, then he feels like a poet and then he is a poet. But in between those times, he is only a person like anyone else. Prose, he said, you can do anytime, but poetry is something that comes only on those occassions when you are tapped into something special.
I think that is an important and salient point.
Many people like to say they are a Writer. There are many ways for people to be whatever they like now. You can write a book and throw up a first draft online and say you are now a writer. You can talk about writing and never do it, and tell people you are a writer. You can write not a letter and claim you are a writer.
But what makes you a writer? More importantly, when, are you a writer?
Are you a writer because you write? Or is it about the quality, or the volume of your writings? Is it if you get paid for your writings? Is it if you are given a lot of money by a single entity, a company, a corporation? Is it if you are paid individually by the individuals who read your writings? Is it by peer review, or by critique by knowldgeable other writers who designate you, a Writer?
If you want to be a Writer, get up in the morning, and put pencil or pen to paper and write. Put your fingers on the keyboard and write. Lift them when you have to. Any less than that slows and decreases the speed at which you will achieve your goals.
Of course you have to eat, work, clean, have a family, rest, relax, make love and be loved. But it is a fine balance. The more of one, the less of another. You decide what your priorities are. Would you prefer that TV show? Or produce a piece of writing? Enjoy time to play, or become what you want to become, sooner?
I liked what Mr. Wiman said about being a poet.
When I write, I am a writer. But further, it has to have some quality to it. Surely, a bunch of letters written, is not writing. So, when I am producing a piece of writing that has a quality that is above what anyone can do; when it is above the quality of most writers, then I am a Writer, and especially so.
When it is accepted as good enough for me to be paid for it, I am a Writer. When I am given praise by readers who spend their hard earned labors turned into currency, that they transfer to me for what I have produced, then I am a Writer. When I write a piece that touches my own soul, even if I show it to no one else, then too, I am a Writer.
But as Mr. Wiman indicated, I am first and foremost a writer when I write. That, is the first step. You have to write first, to be considered a Writer. You have to continue being a Writer, to continue being considered a Writer. If and when you do that, only then can you consider yourself, a Writer.
And when you stop? Then you are no longer a Writer. So if you want to be considered a writer....