What does a writer look like?

Writers are all pasty-faced nerds living in their mothers’ basements, subsisting on a diet of pizza and beer and never succeeding in love because they cannot form effective relationships with anyone other than the characters in their books.

If you believe this to be true, then you really must get out the house more. Perhaps while you’re outside, you could meet some writers; go to a convention, maybe, or just a writer’s group. There, you’ll see that writers are as diverse as anything; many of them are even pretty sociable (although many aren’t and couldn’t be talked into attending a dinner date with one other person, let alone a writing convention).

What interests me, however, are when writers decide to refer to themselves as writers. There seem to be as many opinions on this as there are writers; some use the epithet when they are first published, some quietly call themselves writers as soon as they put pen to paper; others are discouraged by the thought of people mocking them as nothing more than a hobbyist and just say something along the lines of “I just dabble.”

What a shame; to be patronised by people who are meant to be friends. Surely friends are meant to be supportive and encouraging of ambitions, not gently mocking of ambitions. I’ve experienced this; asking me questions in my early days of writing on the vein of, “Are you still writing? Good for you! I’m so glad you’re keeping yourself busy.”

I started calling myself a writer when I was first published; for some reason, it didn’t feel right to do it before then. I wish now I’d been more confident about it – I still wrote, but I didn’t have any publication credits behind me.

I’ve been with Inspired Quill since 2011, and it’s become part of my identity; I’m a published writer, with four novels and a novella out. They’ve given me publishing credits and recognition, but I’ve never spread myself out and tested my writing styles very wide. I was and am proud to have been a part of Inspired Quill, and it became a safe part of my career; but I’ve allowed it to define my writing rather than be a significant part of it. We’ve also had healthy discussions over the years about our respective directions, and it’s helped me define my own ambitions and views – IQ and I might not have always agreed, but with with a willingness to talk, we’ve always come to a decision that allows us to carry on.

But I’m ready to try new things. I need to challenge myself and my writing styles; I want to be more than just a novel writer, although I don’t know what that means. A blogger, certainly, and a crafter of short stories.

In any case, my time with Inspired Quill now comes to an end. My existing books will continue to be in print with them, but it’s time for me to explore other options; what do I want to do with my writing?

I sought some advice from a friend of mine, Richard Wood; he’s a fellow writer and, I’m afraid, is American. That’s not his fault, of course, but one must make allowances. However, I recently asked for his wise counsel, trusting that he would speak bluntly and honestly – and I certainly got both from him. We talked about my future writing, and I could immediately see that I needed to try new things – seeking out agents, short stories again, more blogging, and just exploring where my creativity takes me. Richard helped me remember that I’m a writer no matter what.

And now I get to explore what my writing career means for me as I approach my fourth decade. Exciting times!

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