Ask A Wench: Are We Writers?

AAWGraphicPat here, and today’s question pulled out of our own hat is:

When did you first think of yourself as a writer?

Anne speaks:
There's a school of thought that says that if you write, you're a writer. While I wouldn't argue with that, I think there's a difference between calling yourself a writer and simply writing; I cook every day, but I don't call myself a cook.

I've been writing ever since I was a child — scribbled stories in exercise books, songs, the odd (and I mean odd) poem, plays, and letters, lots and lots of letters. AnneAt7 In my student household we had long-running correspondence between housemates — not about house work or anything mundane or practical — it was purely for fun, and contained a story thread and characters and occasional rhymes (mad doggerel) and all kinds of silliness. And it continued in letters long after we'd moved out, started work and lived in scattered parts of the country. Writing to friends in fun and silliness has always been a joy to me.

Some years back I started writing seriously, with the aim of getting published, but I never called myself a writer. I'm not sure I even thought of myself as a writer because, to me, being "a writer" carried with it some kind of professional connotation. I'd say "I'm writing", or even "I'm trying to write" but I didn't call myself a writer until long after I was published. I waited until I had several books published, and writing was my main source of income, as well as my main professional activity.

I'm not sure why I was so reluctant to claim that I was a writer — maybe I was a little bit superstitious (it might jinx me) — or maybe I didn't want to be thought of as one of those people who say "I'm working on a novel"—for years and years with no sign of any result. There was logic in my reluctance because now, every time someone asks what I do, and I say, "I'm a writer," the first question after that is, "Ah yes, but are you published?" — said with a slightly patronizing tone. And it's very satisfyQuobook_Joing to be able to say "yes."

From Jo Beverley:
Like many, I was always a storyteller. "What if…?" was part of my world view. I made up stories and even when young I wrote some down and illustrated them. I wrote a historical romance in a school exercise book at 16. But I wasn't a Writer.

Writers were people who wrote the books that I saw on library shelves. Even though I benefitted from the British grammar school system and was encouraged to reach for Jo1955any ambition, then went to university, where it was assumed I'd be a professional of some sort, I never imagined that could be Writer. Whatever career path led to books on the shelves was so removed from my world that it must be hereditary, or perhaps even through an invisible door requiring a magical key. (Clearly my writer's imagination was running wild.)

I could dream, however. I wanted to be a romance writer, and in particular a historical romance writer. In my dreams. It took me nearly forty years to see the door and realize I had the key, but then there was no stopping me!

Pat's two cents:

In a way, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I have a high level of conceit and no fear of labels! I started writing Nancy Drew-type mysteries when I was in fifth grade. I graduated to writing romantic teen angst by ninth grade. I was writing. Didn’t that make me a writer? I knew I had to find a job that actually supported me before I could indulge in writing in hopes of publication, but I always figured that completing a novel was just a matter of time.

It was a matter of a much longer time than I’d arrogantly anticipated. I became a wife, a mother, a college student, a minimum-wage earner, and eventually an accountant before I had time to look at a typewriter again. During the period when my husband supported us because I couldn’t find an aMe and dollccounting job, I bought a $25 electric typewriter with a chronically broken S key. Because paper and ribbon were expensive, I scribbled in a ninety-nine-cent Walmart notebook with a ten-cent Bic pen. In between raising kids, housekeeping, and gardening, I wrote one truly impossible, barely-historical love story before deciding maybe I could actually seNancy drewll a sexy romance. At which point I started studying the market, researching, and learning how to develop a story into something New York might buy.

Unlike Anne and Jo, I had no doubt that I could do it. I’d read the biographies of writers and had no interest in starving in garrets, but I didn’t see that writers were any different from me in any other respect. It could be that my cynicism aided my arrogance!

Pat asks:

What about you? Did you ever want to be a writer? What happened to your dreams? Or has reading led you down other paths?

 

We'll be back on Wednesday with the answers from the rest of the wenches!

90 thoughts on “Ask A Wench: Are We Writers?”

  1. Like Pat I just assumed I was writer and would eventually be a published writer. I started out writing newspapers for my dolls at some point before I was ten. I graduated to what would now be called fanfic and still have an example from 1958. But writing a novel took being on unemployment after a failed attempt to teach 7th grade English. Nine years later a children’s mystery finally made it onto bookstore shelves. The five 400 page historical novels I wrote first never did sell, at least not in their original form. Anyway, long story short, in October of this year my 50th traditionally published book, 8th in a contemporary mystery series, will be in stores.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn (and also Kate)

    Reply
  2. Like Pat I just assumed I was writer and would eventually be a published writer. I started out writing newspapers for my dolls at some point before I was ten. I graduated to what would now be called fanfic and still have an example from 1958. But writing a novel took being on unemployment after a failed attempt to teach 7th grade English. Nine years later a children’s mystery finally made it onto bookstore shelves. The five 400 page historical novels I wrote first never did sell, at least not in their original form. Anyway, long story short, in October of this year my 50th traditionally published book, 8th in a contemporary mystery series, will be in stores.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn (and also Kate)

    Reply
  3. Like Pat I just assumed I was writer and would eventually be a published writer. I started out writing newspapers for my dolls at some point before I was ten. I graduated to what would now be called fanfic and still have an example from 1958. But writing a novel took being on unemployment after a failed attempt to teach 7th grade English. Nine years later a children’s mystery finally made it onto bookstore shelves. The five 400 page historical novels I wrote first never did sell, at least not in their original form. Anyway, long story short, in October of this year my 50th traditionally published book, 8th in a contemporary mystery series, will be in stores.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn (and also Kate)

    Reply
  4. Like Pat I just assumed I was writer and would eventually be a published writer. I started out writing newspapers for my dolls at some point before I was ten. I graduated to what would now be called fanfic and still have an example from 1958. But writing a novel took being on unemployment after a failed attempt to teach 7th grade English. Nine years later a children’s mystery finally made it onto bookstore shelves. The five 400 page historical novels I wrote first never did sell, at least not in their original form. Anyway, long story short, in October of this year my 50th traditionally published book, 8th in a contemporary mystery series, will be in stores.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn (and also Kate)

    Reply
  5. Like Pat I just assumed I was writer and would eventually be a published writer. I started out writing newspapers for my dolls at some point before I was ten. I graduated to what would now be called fanfic and still have an example from 1958. But writing a novel took being on unemployment after a failed attempt to teach 7th grade English. Nine years later a children’s mystery finally made it onto bookstore shelves. The five 400 page historical novels I wrote first never did sell, at least not in their original form. Anyway, long story short, in October of this year my 50th traditionally published book, 8th in a contemporary mystery series, will be in stores.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn (and also Kate)

    Reply
  6. I’d love to be a writer, and have started a few different things but…then I got my teaching job, and got married and became a mother and as a result I haven’t even looked at those old unfinished stories in a several years. I tell myself when the little boy is in school, and more independant I’ll dust them all off and really start. He’s 4 now and will start school for real next year. Who knows maybe then!

    Reply
  7. I’d love to be a writer, and have started a few different things but…then I got my teaching job, and got married and became a mother and as a result I haven’t even looked at those old unfinished stories in a several years. I tell myself when the little boy is in school, and more independant I’ll dust them all off and really start. He’s 4 now and will start school for real next year. Who knows maybe then!

    Reply
  8. I’d love to be a writer, and have started a few different things but…then I got my teaching job, and got married and became a mother and as a result I haven’t even looked at those old unfinished stories in a several years. I tell myself when the little boy is in school, and more independant I’ll dust them all off and really start. He’s 4 now and will start school for real next year. Who knows maybe then!

    Reply
  9. I’d love to be a writer, and have started a few different things but…then I got my teaching job, and got married and became a mother and as a result I haven’t even looked at those old unfinished stories in a several years. I tell myself when the little boy is in school, and more independant I’ll dust them all off and really start. He’s 4 now and will start school for real next year. Who knows maybe then!

    Reply
  10. I’d love to be a writer, and have started a few different things but…then I got my teaching job, and got married and became a mother and as a result I haven’t even looked at those old unfinished stories in a several years. I tell myself when the little boy is in school, and more independant I’ll dust them all off and really start. He’s 4 now and will start school for real next year. Who knows maybe then!

    Reply
  11. I too would love to be a writer.
    When asked what I do I have two answers, one is that I’m an analyst, which often leads to puzzled looks. The other is that I am a researcher and writer. About 3/4 of my time is spent doing research and a 1/4 writing up my findings.

    Reply
  12. I too would love to be a writer.
    When asked what I do I have two answers, one is that I’m an analyst, which often leads to puzzled looks. The other is that I am a researcher and writer. About 3/4 of my time is spent doing research and a 1/4 writing up my findings.

    Reply
  13. I too would love to be a writer.
    When asked what I do I have two answers, one is that I’m an analyst, which often leads to puzzled looks. The other is that I am a researcher and writer. About 3/4 of my time is spent doing research and a 1/4 writing up my findings.

    Reply
  14. I too would love to be a writer.
    When asked what I do I have two answers, one is that I’m an analyst, which often leads to puzzled looks. The other is that I am a researcher and writer. About 3/4 of my time is spent doing research and a 1/4 writing up my findings.

    Reply
  15. I too would love to be a writer.
    When asked what I do I have two answers, one is that I’m an analyst, which often leads to puzzled looks. The other is that I am a researcher and writer. About 3/4 of my time is spent doing research and a 1/4 writing up my findings.

    Reply
  16. Jana, a friend of mine was at home with two littlies and decided now was her chance to try and be a writer. She tried keeping the kids in the play-pen while she wrote, but that didn’t work. So then she stuck herself and the word processor in the playpen and that worked a treat. She’s now a multi-published author.
    So good luck.

    Reply
  17. Jana, a friend of mine was at home with two littlies and decided now was her chance to try and be a writer. She tried keeping the kids in the play-pen while she wrote, but that didn’t work. So then she stuck herself and the word processor in the playpen and that worked a treat. She’s now a multi-published author.
    So good luck.

    Reply
  18. Jana, a friend of mine was at home with two littlies and decided now was her chance to try and be a writer. She tried keeping the kids in the play-pen while she wrote, but that didn’t work. So then she stuck herself and the word processor in the playpen and that worked a treat. She’s now a multi-published author.
    So good luck.

    Reply
  19. Jana, a friend of mine was at home with two littlies and decided now was her chance to try and be a writer. She tried keeping the kids in the play-pen while she wrote, but that didn’t work. So then she stuck herself and the word processor in the playpen and that worked a treat. She’s now a multi-published author.
    So good luck.

    Reply
  20. Jana, a friend of mine was at home with two littlies and decided now was her chance to try and be a writer. She tried keeping the kids in the play-pen while she wrote, but that didn’t work. So then she stuck herself and the word processor in the playpen and that worked a treat. She’s now a multi-published author.
    So good luck.

    Reply
  21. I always told or made up stories. I didn’t do much writing — for one thing there were no extra notebooks lying around, and even paper was rationed– but I made up stories. I taught school, was married, a mother and a widow. I thought of my self more as a teacher than a story teller .n.
    I didn’t think about writing stories until I became interested in the regency period and sat down and wrote out 3 books and outlined another dozen. Then I discovered that the published authors I had been reading didn’t have their facts or their titles right. I started into research and got side tracked but continued to rewrite the stories and make up new ones. I discovered RWA and the BeauMOnde.
    My sister says I have messed up my Karma by thinking of myself as a teacher instead of the writer I was meant to be. I am slightly better as a researcher than anything else but continue to write.
    I may never be an author, but am trying to be a writer though I can’t devote as much time to it as I would like.

    Reply
  22. I always told or made up stories. I didn’t do much writing — for one thing there were no extra notebooks lying around, and even paper was rationed– but I made up stories. I taught school, was married, a mother and a widow. I thought of my self more as a teacher than a story teller .n.
    I didn’t think about writing stories until I became interested in the regency period and sat down and wrote out 3 books and outlined another dozen. Then I discovered that the published authors I had been reading didn’t have their facts or their titles right. I started into research and got side tracked but continued to rewrite the stories and make up new ones. I discovered RWA and the BeauMOnde.
    My sister says I have messed up my Karma by thinking of myself as a teacher instead of the writer I was meant to be. I am slightly better as a researcher than anything else but continue to write.
    I may never be an author, but am trying to be a writer though I can’t devote as much time to it as I would like.

    Reply
  23. I always told or made up stories. I didn’t do much writing — for one thing there were no extra notebooks lying around, and even paper was rationed– but I made up stories. I taught school, was married, a mother and a widow. I thought of my self more as a teacher than a story teller .n.
    I didn’t think about writing stories until I became interested in the regency period and sat down and wrote out 3 books and outlined another dozen. Then I discovered that the published authors I had been reading didn’t have their facts or their titles right. I started into research and got side tracked but continued to rewrite the stories and make up new ones. I discovered RWA and the BeauMOnde.
    My sister says I have messed up my Karma by thinking of myself as a teacher instead of the writer I was meant to be. I am slightly better as a researcher than anything else but continue to write.
    I may never be an author, but am trying to be a writer though I can’t devote as much time to it as I would like.

    Reply
  24. I always told or made up stories. I didn’t do much writing — for one thing there were no extra notebooks lying around, and even paper was rationed– but I made up stories. I taught school, was married, a mother and a widow. I thought of my self more as a teacher than a story teller .n.
    I didn’t think about writing stories until I became interested in the regency period and sat down and wrote out 3 books and outlined another dozen. Then I discovered that the published authors I had been reading didn’t have their facts or their titles right. I started into research and got side tracked but continued to rewrite the stories and make up new ones. I discovered RWA and the BeauMOnde.
    My sister says I have messed up my Karma by thinking of myself as a teacher instead of the writer I was meant to be. I am slightly better as a researcher than anything else but continue to write.
    I may never be an author, but am trying to be a writer though I can’t devote as much time to it as I would like.

    Reply
  25. I always told or made up stories. I didn’t do much writing — for one thing there were no extra notebooks lying around, and even paper was rationed– but I made up stories. I taught school, was married, a mother and a widow. I thought of my self more as a teacher than a story teller .n.
    I didn’t think about writing stories until I became interested in the regency period and sat down and wrote out 3 books and outlined another dozen. Then I discovered that the published authors I had been reading didn’t have their facts or their titles right. I started into research and got side tracked but continued to rewrite the stories and make up new ones. I discovered RWA and the BeauMOnde.
    My sister says I have messed up my Karma by thinking of myself as a teacher instead of the writer I was meant to be. I am slightly better as a researcher than anything else but continue to write.
    I may never be an author, but am trying to be a writer though I can’t devote as much time to it as I would like.

    Reply
  26. For me, it’s the writing that’s important—more important than being a writer, though since I am going to actually be published soon, I suppose I now qualify as “a writer.”
    Still, it’s the getting the story down on paper, creating the characters, making it all come out right (both the plot and the prose) that holds me captive.

    Reply
  27. For me, it’s the writing that’s important—more important than being a writer, though since I am going to actually be published soon, I suppose I now qualify as “a writer.”
    Still, it’s the getting the story down on paper, creating the characters, making it all come out right (both the plot and the prose) that holds me captive.

    Reply
  28. For me, it’s the writing that’s important—more important than being a writer, though since I am going to actually be published soon, I suppose I now qualify as “a writer.”
    Still, it’s the getting the story down on paper, creating the characters, making it all come out right (both the plot and the prose) that holds me captive.

    Reply
  29. For me, it’s the writing that’s important—more important than being a writer, though since I am going to actually be published soon, I suppose I now qualify as “a writer.”
    Still, it’s the getting the story down on paper, creating the characters, making it all come out right (both the plot and the prose) that holds me captive.

    Reply
  30. For me, it’s the writing that’s important—more important than being a writer, though since I am going to actually be published soon, I suppose I now qualify as “a writer.”
    Still, it’s the getting the story down on paper, creating the characters, making it all come out right (both the plot and the prose) that holds me captive.

    Reply
  31. I’m into family history so I have written down a lot of family stories. I have also written about my own life for my own pleasure. Once I started to write a historical pirate romance but alas, I haven’t touched it in some years now but one day I will get back to it, maybe… 🙂

    Reply
  32. I’m into family history so I have written down a lot of family stories. I have also written about my own life for my own pleasure. Once I started to write a historical pirate romance but alas, I haven’t touched it in some years now but one day I will get back to it, maybe… 🙂

    Reply
  33. I’m into family history so I have written down a lot of family stories. I have also written about my own life for my own pleasure. Once I started to write a historical pirate romance but alas, I haven’t touched it in some years now but one day I will get back to it, maybe… 🙂

    Reply
  34. I’m into family history so I have written down a lot of family stories. I have also written about my own life for my own pleasure. Once I started to write a historical pirate romance but alas, I haven’t touched it in some years now but one day I will get back to it, maybe… 🙂

    Reply
  35. I’m into family history so I have written down a lot of family stories. I have also written about my own life for my own pleasure. Once I started to write a historical pirate romance but alas, I haven’t touched it in some years now but one day I will get back to it, maybe… 🙂

    Reply
  36. And I say you’re a writer! Just not a published one, yet. But it does seem that those of us who get hung up on the research are less likely to pursue the creative world, which is why you found so many errors in the published books. (wink)

    Reply
  37. And I say you’re a writer! Just not a published one, yet. But it does seem that those of us who get hung up on the research are less likely to pursue the creative world, which is why you found so many errors in the published books. (wink)

    Reply
  38. And I say you’re a writer! Just not a published one, yet. But it does seem that those of us who get hung up on the research are less likely to pursue the creative world, which is why you found so many errors in the published books. (wink)

    Reply
  39. And I say you’re a writer! Just not a published one, yet. But it does seem that those of us who get hung up on the research are less likely to pursue the creative world, which is why you found so many errors in the published books. (wink)

    Reply
  40. And I say you’re a writer! Just not a published one, yet. But it does seem that those of us who get hung up on the research are less likely to pursue the creative world, which is why you found so many errors in the published books. (wink)

    Reply
  41. which leads to another interesting aspect…it sounds as if you may lean toward biography and nonfiction. Not all of us are creative writers. Is a biographer a writer? Or does that designation only go to creatives? I like a wide open definition of a writer, so I’d say you were one tood.

    Reply
  42. which leads to another interesting aspect…it sounds as if you may lean toward biography and nonfiction. Not all of us are creative writers. Is a biographer a writer? Or does that designation only go to creatives? I like a wide open definition of a writer, so I’d say you were one tood.

    Reply
  43. which leads to another interesting aspect…it sounds as if you may lean toward biography and nonfiction. Not all of us are creative writers. Is a biographer a writer? Or does that designation only go to creatives? I like a wide open definition of a writer, so I’d say you were one tood.

    Reply
  44. which leads to another interesting aspect…it sounds as if you may lean toward biography and nonfiction. Not all of us are creative writers. Is a biographer a writer? Or does that designation only go to creatives? I like a wide open definition of a writer, so I’d say you were one tood.

    Reply
  45. which leads to another interesting aspect…it sounds as if you may lean toward biography and nonfiction. Not all of us are creative writers. Is a biographer a writer? Or does that designation only go to creatives? I like a wide open definition of a writer, so I’d say you were one tood.

    Reply

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