Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thinking: Writer?

There is an old joke that seems to around social media sites every few months - or at least, old by the standards of social media - that whereas in the past being a Writer was a calling borne of study, graft and innate talent, these days its a simple update to your profile and *poomf*, done. Like most wit on the internet it is overstating the point but there is kernel of truth to it - it is certainly easier to self identify as a writer, and certainly easier to setup a blog and post up what you've written. God knows I did the latter, but I remain wary of labeling myself the former.

The thing is though - I write. I do reviews, here and over at Geek Syndicate. I write rambling, brain-storm posts like this one. I even write prose - short stories mainly, I even finish some and I've a little folder in my email for the rejection emails I get when I submit them. But I don't list "writer" as a hobby in the same way I list "podcaster". But I've got folders of notes and half-written prose, and even about a third of a novel stashed away somewhere, all needing time, love and inspiration.

Part of it is clearly the rejection thing. The moment some editor has a fit of charity and actually picks up something for publication I'm sure I'll stick "writer" over everything I can find, because I guess we all need a little bit of external validation now and again. I've no real evidence that anything I've ever written has been any good at all, and rejection letters remain bland and neutral; something I understand but is no less frustrating for it. Is this story actually good, but just not the right fit? Or is it badly written drivel not fit to ever see the light of day? Who knows?

But then again, is being a writer about quality anyway? The success of a number of terrible writers over the years suggests not, so waiting for an objective standard seems hollow. If it's about time invested, success or not, then that's wonderfully romantic - emaciated scribblers in their bohemian garrets is a great image - but you don't have to venture far into writers websites to find some talent-light, time-rich epics. Those guys are clearly writers though - they write, they publish (and be damned) and good on them for that.

So I guess I don't produce enough material to qualify, nor have I produced anything anyone seems to want. But I write, dammit, just to get the ideas out of my head. So it's back to editing up my next submission for me then.