Sunday, September 13, 2009

VBT Blog Question: Are You A Real Writer?

Today's VBT group blog topic is "Are You a Real Writer?" It is hosted at the blog of Nancy Famolari. An excerpt: "One of the writer's groups I belong to wanted people who had been published to sign up as “Published Authors.” I checked out the criteria and discovered, to my surprise, that the only criteria for becoming a”Published Author” was having an advance from a publisher. This seemed a rather narrow criterion, so I asked the person in charge if I was reading it correctly. I was assured that I was, and further, this meant anyone published by a small publisher, ebook publisher, self-published, or unlucky enough to have a NY publisher who didn't give advances, wasn't a “Published, or Real, Author."
"This experience led me to ask the question: What makes you identify yourself as a real writer?"

I would agree that to define "a real author" as only one published through a publisher that gives advances is much too narrow, self-serving, and out-of-date. Any writer with an e-book available on-line, a self-published book available through Amazon, B&N, etc, or a book published by a small press is certainly "a real author" in my opinion. But that is what defines an 'author'. The question Nancy asked is are you a real writer. Many writers will never become published authors in the traditional sense of producing a book.

To me, being a real writer means that one writes on a level of quality that is acceptable for his/her genre so that, if published, his/her work would be judged equal to that of published peers. For instance, I started out as a poet on-line. My first efforts were ripped apart with criticisms from better writers so that I felt like a novice or beginning student. It took months of writing before I began to get predominantly favorable comments from reviewers. Finally, after more than a year of writing poems, I began to get comments that my work moved people and that I should consider publishing my poetry in a book. That is when I felt like a true writer...when I won an approving readership. Later I published my first book of poetry through Lulu. When I held my book in my hands for the first time, I then felt like an author. Seeing my book available on reinforced that feeling.

Someone who writes a newspaper column but never published a book is certainly a real writer. Someone who writes a blog followed by numerous readers is a real writer. Being a real writer means to me being able to write with enough quality that readers enjoy the read. Simple as that.

(While here, why not check out the next post down on my blog about how I get ideas for my poetry. Thanks!)




Nancy Famolari said...

I certainly agree with you, Harry. Anyone who has a following or has made their material available for the public is a real writer. I enjoyed your description of how being an on-line poet helped you become a "real" writer. Feedback from our peers is critical. It's the way we can assure ourselves that we are member of the writing group for that genre. Thanks for responding!

Vivian Zabel said...

I agree, too, Harry.

On my blog I addressed what an advance really means.

Vivian Zabel said...

I also linked back to your blog, Harry.