If I Say I Am Writing a Book, Does that Make me a Writer?

I tell people, actually my daughter does, that I am writing a book. (That’s her way of being proud of me.) People are usually interested in this. I/we get several responses:

  • Oh, what you are writing about?
  • Oh, can I read it?
  • Oh, can we be the first in line to buy it? (ah, Shangri-La!)

But very often I get the response, “Oh, I would like to write a book.” I’m never quite sure how to respond to that. I think people have expertise they’d like to pass along or a story they’d like to tell. Perhaps all of us have this compulsion in some form or other. But what enamors us about writing a book? And indeed, what puts the stars in our eyes? The endpoint, seeing my words and my story in print, is indeed a tempting and lofty goal. But writing it…that’s the hurdle.

The first thing I want to say to them is, oh, are you a writer? By this I probably mean ‘have you been published.’ I stop short of saying ‘are you a writer, too?’ Because me, I am just learning to write. I wonder which comes first, the learning or the writing nature?

These interactions remind me a bit of the goal-setting sessions I had with my new little travel soccer players. (10 years old or so) The most enthusiastic and confident would say, “My goal is to score 3 goals (or more) per game.” Now, our team only scored 2 goals the whole game – on very good days – so I stifled the grin and said, “Wow. That would be great. What would you need to work on to do that?”

And that’s the issue with writing a book. First, one must learn the skill. And see if it’s fun, inspiring, or at least attracts you to the task. See if others connect with what you write. And even then, to stay the course is hard. As Lois Lowry said to her child audience in a webinar I heard yesterday, “It takes a long time to write a book.” And she is a gifted, gifted writer with an amazing imagination and 40-some published books.

When people tell me they’d like to write a book, I know it’s like little Sierra who wanted to score 3 goals per game. They have a dream and call it a goal. Even when it’s specific, measurable, reachable, etc. ….one still must slug through the steps toward it. And they are hard. We’re not good at them yet. And even when we get better, there are no guarantees.

We humans like to skip to the happy ending. Let me just jump right to Easter and skip all that Good Friday stuff. Scourging and flogging and crucifying? Pfft. Who needs it?

We do. We need to sit in the hard stuff. Work out the kinks. Negotiate with the difficult people – even and especially when they are us. We need the Passion before the Resurrection. Because in it, we discover the power in us: the ability, the aptitude, the strength of character. Perhaps it’s mostly the fortitude – enduring the daily grind and the perspective it offers. The view of the dirt at our feet as we step.

I am getting to know the protagonist in my story. We are becoming friends, perhaps closer than friends. Perhaps she is my daughter and all the daughters I have adopted along the way. It is to them I write this story. For them. Perhaps one day it will be a book.


About wlebolt

Life comes at you fast. I like to catch it and toss it back. Or toss it up to see where it lands. I do my best thinking when I'm moving. And my best writing when I am tapping my foot to a beat no one else hears. Kinesthetic to the core.

Posted on November 8, 2012, in In Action, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. And the WordPress quote that greeted my post: “I do not like to write – I like to have written.” ~Gloria Steinem
    Ah, serendipity…I don’t believe in coincidences where God is concerned.

  2. Beautifully put Wendy. I’m learning to write too. It’s funny how some days it flows and others it is like moving a mountain. Thank you for the reminder to “stay the course.” I just finished reading Stephen King’s “On Writing.” I found it fascinating, funny and helpful.

    • Yes. On Writing is a fantastic book. Not a horror movie, as I expected from Stephen King. 🙂 One of the first recommended to me when I was getting started thinking about starting to maybe approach…writing. His notion (perhaps not original to him ?) to just kill the children is maybe hardest of all. The product of your blood and sweat, meant for the edit/delete/trash heap. Ugh. But when you can do that, you see what your writing really can become. I just get a bit miffed at folks who think it’s easy. Because it seems like it should be, looking at all those good finished products out there.

      I do find that some times of day are better for certain kinds of writing. Deadlines help me finish but absolutely quash my creativity. Alas, I must write.

  3. Just saying, I will never write a book. I love life but the steps I take in life are hard enough for me. I admire your writing! 🙂

  4. “I wonder which comes first, the learning or the writing nature?”

    I have not been published, but I do consider myself a writer. I write because I need to, it is my therapy, my hobby, my outlet. I write because I enjoy it. But more because my family prefers it when I don’t build suspense about what’s for dinner. They know I need to write when the security guard gets a character arc in what should be a 30-second anecdote. I think the learning continues regardless of publication. 🙂

    • Nice to meet you, AK. I do agree, one can certainly be a writer without publishing a thing. The funny thing is, when I get into these writing courses they are full of people whose goal is to publish a book or to get an agent. And when I read their writing I wonder if they really “are” a writer. That is, someone like you (and me) who formulates thoughts and hashes out ideas with pen and paper or keyboard and cursor.

      Publishing a book wouldn’t change this about me, I don’t think. I hope not. But since today, if you have a few dollars and a text you’d like printed and bound, you can make it so. I guess that’s what convinces me I can write a book though it makes me wonder whether anyone would read it.

      But alas, I must write.

      • Likewise, nice to meet you! Yes, I agree that publishing won’t change the people who need to write to stay sane…. it would just make our coping mechanism pay the bills!

  5. And isn’t it amazing when when you’ve worked it all out,written it down and even shared the work with others, you take a deep breath, smile and exhale enjoying the moment of contentment even gratitude, and with the very next breath you discover the well is full yet again …..with words ….

    • Yes. Yes. Yes!! Have just posted today and I believe I am in the same moment with you 🙂 But yes. This is why today’s writing must be done today, because the view from tomorrow is different. I am ever amazed. When I think I must write the one perfect thing God has laid on my heart meant for speaking into the world, and I finally write it, and then God says, “and next this…” As if he planned it like that all along 🙂

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