I might be a writer not really sure

Here is my problem, I lack a few qualities that I think are prerequisites to “writer/author” label (I think the words are different but folks seem to use them interchangeably).
Any desire to be published. Sure it would be cool but i am not sure it is worth the effort.
Training of any kind. I hated college and dropped out so I missed even the basic classes.
Actual plan for what I scribble. I just start with a basic idea and let it go its own way.

What I do have on my side
An extensive library that i read through regularly (<1K books mostly classics or religious works).
I like to tell stories. The current work (purchased scriv because it helps me be more productive) was requested by my daughter. She wanted more than the oral tale that I made up on the spot.
One heck of an imagination. Sometimes my wife accuses me of liking the fictional worlds more than the real one (wouldn’t that indicate that someone wrote something very well)
A wife who supports me. She actually bought me scriv because I lamented the expiration of the trial. She wants to see me succeed.
A published short story writer who wont leave me alone. He heard us reading a draft of a chapter and is harassing me to provide him a draft

I have a real job that I enjoy that pays the bills so I don’t “need” to publish or even write. Others have said that the value of the author/writer is not determined by the fact that a work is published (I can always self publish if I want a bound copy), which means that the criteria seems to the like that of “art” – it is so if declared so by the originator of the piece.

I read some works that I love (C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, A. C. Doyle, Bronte, Dante, hell even Plato and Darwin (yes i like Origin even if I doubt the way it has been applied to modern thinking)) and others that I greatly dislike (S. King, Faust, Frost). These are all author/writers which would seem to indicated that personal preference to a style or method would not allow me to declare one person an author/writer but withhold that label from someone else.

I guess I am not sure what qualifies one as an author/writer (are the words even the same?). I write from the necessity of recording and perfecting a story that is pinned into the recesses of my mind. While i don’t find writing “difficult” or tedious (yet) I can’t say that I write for the shear joy of it. Scriv certainly makes writing more enjoyable for me as it works the way i want to instead of forcing me to work Keith’s way.

I guess I am a little nervous. I asked some friends who have dramatically different literature tastes to read a few pieces. These are the type of friends who will tell you to take a shower without worrying about your feelings. They want more.

I guess at the end of the day the questions really become “how do I know I am a writer or not?” and “when do you know if it is worth looking for a publisher?”

This is too long. Thanks for being patient.


Don’t get all bogged down in definitions. Writers write. Non-writers don’t. You sound like a writer to me. Formal training arguably does more harm than good, and many very successful writers wouldn’t know a plan if it smacked them in the face.

As far as seeking publication goes, you might want to think about why publication is desirable for you and how much you are willing to invest to achieve it. The odds are that any single manuscript will be rejected. If you don’t have a plan to keep at it until you succeed, you’re probably just wasting the stamps. There’s also lots of good advice on the business side of things out there. My favorite resource is fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php

Good luck!



Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:19 am Post subject:

They say the Pope can claim infallibility, in certain areas. Palpable bollocks, obviously! However, the edifying properties inherent in Katherines pronouncements, for me, at least, tolerate no brooking! Its like having a big sister, looking out for your interests and slapping or patting you on the head, depending on the intellectual content of your outpourings. For that reason, I would definitely check out:


If ever Im not in total agreement with her, I always assume its me that`s out of kilter with reality and not her. I could be falling in love., who knows?

There are very strong resonances, for me, with a lot of your post`s content( not all, but a lot).

Any desire to be published. Sure it would be cool but i am not sure it is worth the effort.
Training of any kind. I hated college and dropped out so I missed even the basic classes.
Actual plan for what I scribble. I just start with a basic idea and let it go its own way.[end quote]

What does intrigue me, is, do you want to be a, writer , or a story teller? I think theyre different disciplines, and require different philosophical approaches. tis a dilemma I,m struggling with, at the moment.

The wider the appreciative audience, for what we have to put before them, obviously, helps us determine, one or the other

Tis late and i`m off to my bed


take care

I’ve read about and interviewed scores of writers, composers, choreographers, filmmakers and other artists. Although I’ve not specifically asked many of them when they decided they were writers/composers/whatever, it seems to me that all of them spend little if any time wondering about these existential identity questions. Rather, they worry about the next piece they’re working on. Instead of wringing their hands over their career tracks, they’re busy making art – because that’s what they do. They can’t help themselves.
Character is action. You’ll find out whether you’re a writer when you look back in a few years to see if you’ve written anything you think is worthwhile, and if you keep doing so. If you haven’t, don’t beat yourself up. There are plenty of other honorable professions.

Also, your status may change. Sibelius didn’t compose anything for the last 3 or 4 decades of his life, and we all know about J.D. Salinger and various other prodigies who laid down the pen or brush never to pick it up again. At some point, they stopped being artists and became something else, and maybe that’s what they needed then. Better to find something you’re good at and enjoy rather than condemning yourself to frustration by trying to do be something that doesn’t suit you. In any case, the work – or absence of it – will tell the tale, albeit in retrospect. Good luck!

Judging by the original placement of this post, Vic sir, you may be a gallon further along than you think you are. :astonished:

As to the pope I plead indifference. My particular vein of Judea-Christendom considers him a man whose word is just that, the word of a man. He may be “enlightened” but at the end of the day he is a man. We digress and invite scorn and ridicule by the napalm filled bucket so we should verify that the asbestos undergarments are in place and move on.

I have looked briefly at the link provided by you and Katherine, and will certainly give it more time. As to your state of affection toward the second party I can provide no insight. I would agree that assuming that the Vic-beard is “out of kilter with reality” is always a safe bet. You would know best though.

I think I need to provide my personal definition of the ambiguous “writer” and “author”

a writer provides information to the mind of a reader
an author creates ideas in the mind of a reader

This is where my profession handicaps me. I deal with “technical writers” who don’t know the subject matter about which they write. They do their job well, but they are not proficient in the knowledge they cover. They simply move information from point A to point B. Before you flame me, i KNOW this is not the case for all technical writers, just all the TW I have experience with.

In my view an author writes in a way to cause the readership to THINK about some thing. Whether that thought is about the impact of hybrid cars on the ecology, the meaning of life, or the color of the women of Zandora the gaol is thought. I have read many technical books that caused me to think which again “gives a lie” to the idea that a technical writer just conveys information. I would counter that these books were written by authors filling the role of a technical writer.

Back to your “writer or story teller” question; I would have to answer story teller for one reason only – I know how to use stories to get people to think. That is what I want to do. My current story is about the age old problem of finding “the one” that you will commit your person too. My daughter and I can’t seem to have the conversation about “guys are pigs” without it turning into a fist fight, but if I tell her a story she “gets it” on her own and thinks the idea is hers.

While that example is a manipulative one (trying to get my daughter to not date until after she is dead) I find that this is how I communicate technical info as well. Using stories and then breaking it all down to show how systems are represented in the story. Management loves that and I am being asked to do presentations for other groups now. In my mind that would indicate that I have my method or voice (I have heard it called different things depending on the forum).

And there is the rub. I am an author because I declare my work as thought inspiring. These days we won’t let God declare himself “God” based on His work, but I can declare myself an author by my work. Seems hypocritical in some ways (forget the religious connotation and think of the example).

Now that I have alienated every single person that will ever read this post, let me close with the following. If we self declare we cheapen what we do, if we rely on external validation we subjectify ourselves to the mood of the validating body, but if we do nothing we are all without hope. in light of that, God can be God if He says He is and I am a story telling author because i say so. I think.

BTW doing a “define” search in google says that until we publish we are neither writer or author. That sucks. What happened to the “do no harm” bit?

Now I need to get today’s 3k done so I can edit more over breakfast.


Brett I think you make an interesting point when you bring the phrase “making art” into this. Art is self declared and hence some “artists” are, in my opinion, not qualified to paint my living room. I can likewise make the same type of statement about writers/authors, some of “them” are not qualified to type dictation. I can live with both of those statements and I think that the underlying subjectivity of what “qualifies” is clear, personal opinion of the output that was used to self declare an individuals status. When we add your “look back and see” principle I feel that you have provided an answer that I can stand by. Plus it lines up with my long winded reply to Vic-beard.

The above paragraph makes sense to me. If not to you then please accept my apologies.

On a different point I think a little hand wringing is good for everyone. Especially with it involves some existential identify questions. While I don’t spend a lot of time actively thinking about questions like these I find that at random times questions just drop in for a visit. i am just not smart enough to send the uninvited guests packing.



Thank you for the compliment and encouragement.

My concern with publishing is not the cost, as much as wasting everyone’s time (and effort). It is way too early to think about publishing and I should get a little further into the current projects before I really worry about it.

I guess I kind of assume that publishing a book is much like producing an album (from the creators perspective). My experience which the music industry is that a “good start” will get you further than a “good finish” on a given project. We al now what happens when you assume…


When I mentioned investment, I meant time and effort. In traditional publishing, money flows toward the writer, and getting published doesn’t cost one red cent. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to steal your money.

(In the Internet era, various forms of self-publishing are proliferating. Some are fine, many are scams. The Preditors [sic] and Editors page is required reading – sfwa.org/beware/ )

I don’t know enough about the music business to know whether comparisons to publishing are valid or not. They are similar in that the vast majority never make it past the slush pile (publishing) or the local clubs (music). And, in both cases, success at any useful scale requires significant effort over an extended period.


Music and writing aren’t entirely dissimilar, at least on the publishing side - the real difference is that music is of course a performing art, and so it’s possible to make a living from it without ever being published. Not really possible in writing.

The main big difference in publishing, though, is the level of success needed to earn out your advance and expenses. With an average record deal, an artist can sell 100k copies, appear on TV and be regarded as very successful… yet still be in debt to the recording label. In books, not so much - by the time you hit the bestseller lists, it’s amost a certainty that you’ve earned out and are now being paid royalties (and 100k sales would have any publisher throwing a party).

Broad generalisations, obviously, but also broadly true.