What makes a ‘real’ writer?
I write every day; it is the way I think. A pulse between synapse and neuron becomes motion from mind to hand, a scribble of black ink on white paper. Those ‘think on paper’ words live in a vacuum. A time capsule. They are not written for reading.
But sometimes, a specific thought will stick around after being scribbled. The scribbling brings it into a clearer focus, separates it, cleanses it of superficial emotion. An idea is born. It takes on a life of its own.
I take the idea, the thought, the plot or character, I poke and prod it, examine it for strengths and weaknesses. Will it work as fiction or non, first person or third? Maybe second person future perfect. (Can you imagine? ‘You will have entered the room and you will have sipped the liquid in the glass that you will have seen on the table.’) I work on paper first, sometimes, sitting at my kitchen table with coffee or wine, depending on the sun’s position in the sky. Sometimes I start on this screen. Some words land in their final resting spot on the first try, some are rewritten, replaced or deleted. I read it all aloud, listening for trips and snags. I write for my own ear, for my own taste.
Afterwards, with the act of reading, a stranger cuts the cord that binds the words to their creator. The words need a reader to live on their own.
In this new world where the artificial filter of agents and publishers is breaking down, does the click of that blue button – labeled ‘publish’ not ‘post’ by the way – does it really mean published in the old sense of the word? Must the definition of publish contain the words print and/or paper?
Am I a writer by virtue of the ingestion of my creation regardless of the method of consumption? (And can I get away with a sentence like that – or is it proof that the old ways are best?)
If ten people read these words, is that real enough? How about a hundred or a thousand? Do large numbers of readers imply validity?
I ask all this because I have one and only one wish for this short and meaningless existence. All I want is to sign my name: “Jill Schmehl, Writer” without having it sound like a lie or an exaggeration.
Can I do that, yet?