I was at a luncheon, where the speaker’s topic was “Becoming a Writer”.
During lunch, before the speaker spoke, the gentleman next to me asked me what I do now that I’m retired.
“I’m a writer,” I said, and all the other six people at the table suddenly looked at me with raised eyebrows.
“Are you now, what do you write?”
“Non-fiction, short stories, blog posts and I’ve just finished my first novel.”
“A few articles for a magazine years ago, I publish my blog posts on the internet, and I’m going to self-publish my novel.”
The chap smiled and said:
“Should you really call yourself a writer?”
This guy was getting under my skin. The others at the table were waiting for my answer.
“Of course I’m a writer and I have a pile of rejection letters to prove it! Only writers who write and submit can get rejected. What do you do?”
“I’m a doctor.”
“That’s nice, nobody at this table is going to ask you to prove it!”
“It’s interesting that writing is one of the few jobs where people put the “burden of proof” on you.”
“I guess it’s a form of identity,” one person across from me said.
“Yes, you’re right. I look at myself in the mirror and say, “I am a writer”. It’s a unique way of interacting with and viewing the world.”
“I guess if you call yourself a writer, you have to write often, probably daily,” the doctor said, humbly.
“That’s right, a writer has to produce. Nobody will ever miss something you didn’t write. Writers have to create their own motivation.”
“You must have to discipline yourself to write,” someone said.
“Yes, a writer must have self-discipline. Writers are people who write!”
“What about writer’s block?”
Questions were coming from all directions now!
“Well, questions like the one the doctor put to me, “Should I call myself a writer?”, contribute to writer’s block!”
“What do you mean?”
“All writers have a little negative voice in the back of their heads saying:
“Are you really a writer, maybe you should put your pen down and walk away from the table.”
“Writers hear voices?”
“Yes, so do you, it’s the voice of self-doubt!”
Everyone at the table nodded their head.
“The doctor’s controversial question just fortifies that voice, which is the enemy of writers and really the enemy of all art.”
“Well, you sure know a lot about writing. I’m sorry I said what I did,” said the doctor, shaking my hand.
At that moment the M.C. announced:
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, our speaker: Writer Dave.”
The applause was deafening. I GOT UP AND WENT TO THE PODIUM!