What Makes A Writer?

I’ve been writing my entire life. Back when I was a child it was in notebooks and on scraps of paper, when I was a teenager it was on a word processor that I got for Christmas from my Dad and when I was at university it was my major. But its always solely been a hobby, something fun, or that is until I was about fifteen when I handed in a piece of fiction for English class and got my one and only A* ever.

Up until that point writing had been something fun, but after that it became a prospect and something that I could potentially pursue beyond the scraps of paper, short stories and terrible angst-ridden poetry that I’d created. And when I allowed life to get in my way, when I travelled and saw the world, I hadn’t really stopped writing, even then. I still blogged, I still wrote down stupid anecdotes on the internet and I still kept it up in some form or another.

But again, it was a hobby. Something to do when I was bored, something to do when I was inspired. I could never, and still can never, call it anything more than that.

People have a hard time telling others that they write because they get the inevitable questions back. Have you published anything? But, you have a day job, don’t you? You’re not really a writer, are you? It’s just a hobby, isn’t it?

I mean, no, its not my job. But what defines ‘writer’. Are we defining it as a job, or are we defining it as a lifestyle? I write. I create stories and put them down on a computer somewhere. Maybe no one will ever read them and maybe they will stay on that computer until I am dead and buried and someone will come and find them, (hopefully my as yet unborn children) and publish them in memory of me and I will become Van Goghian in my success. Who knows? Did Van Gogh call himself a painter even though he only sold one piece of art? (Was it one? I forget.)


The point is that my husband has taken it upon himself to go round telling everyone and anyone he meets on the street or in bars that his wife is writing a novel. And it scares me. Mainly because I have a hard time telling anyone that I am writing a novel, but also because he’s implying that I am a writer. And it makes me feel a fraud and a little bit silly.

I mean, I’m not published, I don’t have an agent, I haven’t found a beta reader and I am pretty sure that after I have let my draft rest for six weeks I will go back to my manuscript and mock my terrible attempts at sci-fi.

So I ask this:

If I write does it make me a writer? And how do we define ‘writer’? Because if its a job then no, I am most definitely not earning a living off this. But if it is a lifestyle, a way of thinking, a way of being and something that I could never, ever give up, then yes, I am and will always be someone who writes.