So a recap:
In a blog post about what defines one as a “Writer”, Natasha said:
I would say that I am a person who enjoys creative writing, but no matter how great I think my own writing is (which, by the way, I don’t), and no matter how great someone else thinks my writing is (mostly my mother), I will never consider myself a writer until someone in the “literary world” publishes my work.
I understand this notion, especially when questioning or deciding if you, yourself can be called a writer (at least when the you = me) but this idea strikes me as very capitalist and anti-artistic…
Cassidy came into the discussion:
The moment when I feel most like a writer is when I am actually writing, not just talking about it or thinking about it, or even workshopping, but working on my computer, in the middle of a story or poem. It’s the moment where you have to drop everything and just write. It’s the moment of participating in the act, fully, and completely. Not before. Not after. Only during. And perhaps the reason why I keep doing it is because I’m addicted to that feeling…
Finally, Courtney said:
Generally, this comes down to whether or not you’ve been published. But that brings up some problems as well. I’ve been published in a newspaper and one anthology. Do I feel like a writer? Not all the time, no.
There also a whole tier of “writers” out there who carry their computers and journals around, hanging out in coffee shops, who tell me they are writing but aren’t doing the work (you know who you are).
I agree with Cassidy, “it’s the moment of participating in the act, fully, and completely and it is all of it: the writing, the thinking, the rewriting, the selling, the talking, the promoting, the pitching, and the doing of it over and over and over.
Writing is work. It is action. It is a deed done. The more you commit to it, the more the work that is required. It feels reductive to simplify the argument to a division of an either/or definition.
If it is simply the economics of being paid, in screenwriting, even if you do get something optioned, it does not guarantee that it will be produced. It may sit on a shelf for the rest of time. You gain credibility but no credit, no measuring stick of your success to create something that is profitable.
Couched within the definition of the author, is whether what is created is “good” or “bad”, “high” or “low” writing. Courtney mentions:
There is criteria of good and bad, high and low in this world that is constructed out of a subjective opinion. Good does not necessarily equal high and bad does not necessarily equal low art. I always question people’s motives when they remove themselves from either spheres of “high” or “low” because they believe the work to be “lacking”.
For me, what makes writing (or films) bad is the laziness placed on the craft. Writing is work, writing is putting yourself on the page, of telling the truth (even if it’s wrapped in a lie) and writing that tries, even if it fails, is far more interesting than bad writing and cliché formed by fear and laziness. To reduce an author talent, by their title, by whether they are published or not, whether they make money or not, whether it they create high or low art becomes only a disservice to the work required.
Don’t be a hack, don’t be lazy, do your work, and you’re a writer.