The Sunday Salon - Reading and Writing

Happy Mother's Day

Good Morning, Sunday Saloners. It is a bright and sunny day here in California. James gave me the gift this morning of sleeping in so I actually got to have some quiet, alone time. They will be giving me more quiet time later, when they go out grocery and Mother's day shopping. Father asked me what I wanted and it became a toss between books on writing or new patio chairs and an umbrella. He and James just looked at me and said "Hmm."

I started reading "Take No Prisoners(Black Ops #2) " by Cindy Gerard at breakfast and promptly got wrapped up into the story. Gerard's writing just takes you away. I could learn a few things from her. Speaking of writing, it's been an interesting few days.

Wednesday I got drawn into a conversation about writing and identity at Nathan Bransford and wrote this long post about labels. Since then I've been struggling with writing, for some reason the flow stopped. God knocked me on the head and said, listen up, you need to think about a few things. I was lead to a few interesting post. Two in particular stood out, that were the polar opposites of each other. B.J. Keltz of Enriched by Words (thanks Michelle) wrote a wonderful post about "Honoring yourself as a Writer." Her post was positive, optimistic, enlightening. I perused the rest of her blog and loved her spirit, not just as a person, but as a writer. It all starts with honoring and respecting yourself, not just as a person, but a writer.

"To be a writer is a divine thing. In order to be taken seriously you need to take yourself seriously. In order to be good at what you do, you need to respect your craft. If you have certain end results in mind, you’ll need to educate yourself and then pursue that goal with dogged determination."

In her post below that - Fly Away, Words, she says:

"We are not all born a Shakespeare, with a body of work that endures through the ages, and that’s okay. As long as I am putting my best words out there, I can struggle with the process of letting them go…and trust that they will find the life they should have. Some words are well received. Some fall on deaf ears. Whatever the result or their reception, I have to write them, give them life, and let them go. I am a writer. That’s what we do."

Talk about a shot in the arm.

Her blog lead me to GenReality and a post entitled "Writers and Carrots" by Jason Pinter about not calling yourself a writer until you've actually published something. Please read it and then come back. His article came about after an encounter with an unpublished writer who called herself a full time writer.

"For some reason this bothered me, probably more than it should have, and it’s been like a popcorn kernel stuck between my teeth. What she said touched a nerve, I just haven’t been able to shake it. I’m not picking on this woman–she seemed perfectly nice and loved books and people like that should never be taken for granted–but I couldn't help but think that if she truly wanted to be a writer, she’s going about it completely wrong. And the reason I believe her comment bothered me is that many aspiring writers I’ve met over the last few years have very similar attitudes, that once you put a pen to the page or bang out a few pages you’re officially a ‘Writer.’ This is not to come across as elitist, it’s not to create a division between published and unpublished writers, but in my opinion if you want to be a writer, that way of thinking harms your writing more than anything."

His comments did come across as elitist and struck me as very pessimistic, even defeatist.

"If you aspire to be a writer, do yourself a favor and don’t call yourself a ‘Writer’. I’m sure many people have gone about it differently, and what worked for me won’t necessarily work for others, but don’t allow yourself to eat the carrot simply by sticking your hand out a few inches. Hold it out there in front of you. Walk for it, run for it, grasp for it. When the time comes, you’ll be able to reach it. Just don’t sell yourself short by holding it an inch from your mouth, then congratulate yourself for leaning forward far enough to take a bite."

Selling yourself short? This woman wasn't selling herself short. What hit me most of all was even though this woman hadn't published anything, her positive outlook is what kept her going, she is proud of herself. The carrot to her is writing. By calling herself a writer, it gave her the positive attitude to keep on writing and stick with it. The carrot isn't being published, it's the writing. Publishing is what happens when you finish eating that carrot and reach the stick.

At the end of the day, I realized in getting wrapped up in semantics and discussions about labels, I had sabotaged myself and sold myself short.

Definition of a Writer: a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing.

Okay God. You made your point. I am a writer!

And someday when I publish a book and become an "Author," help me remember to be positive and encouraging rather than negative and discouraging to those on the path who call themselves writers.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
------- Lord Byron


  1. The elementary school kids I teach never question whether or not they are writers the way that adults do. They firmly believe, as you suggest at the end of this post, that if they are able to convey their thoughts and experiences on to paper with words and pictures then they are writers and illustrators. And they are. They own their creations, and their own roles in crafting them. Lessons for all of us adults writers who would be tempted to put quotes around the word in doubt. :)

  2. And someday when I publish a book and become an "Author,"At the risk of getting caught up in semantics again, to me that distinction there is exactly the difference a lot of people fail to make. I'm glad to hear that you've figured out what sabotaged your writing and I hope you're back on track with your goals now!

    I'm... actually not quite sure what to say now. If only because everything I can think of now is (or has the potential of turning into) another game of semantics, and that won't help anyone. The key is finding what works for you. If you share your methods and others can find something that works for them too, that's great.

    But when you are that published author, Robin, I don't think you'll need us to remind you of any of that. ^-~


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