It was a fairly normal Friday morning in my local coffee shop, I’d been there for about an hour, was on my second latte and writing in my notebook, oblivious to the world around me.
It was then that I noticed the lady on the table next to mine was smiling at me, I politely smiled back ……. and that’s when it happened. It was such a traumatic and embarrassing moment that I’m almost tempted to abandon this post, but I need to go on, I feel an urge to purge my soul.
What, you must be wondering, had this lady done that was so disconcerting? It was not what she did but rather what she said, she asked me a question, which, with hindsight, was both simple and obvious. If only hindsight had been my companion that morning.
She simply asked, “I couldn’t help but notice your notepad …. are you a writer?” She caught me unawares and without thinking I replied, “No, not really.”
Despite her disappointment she carried on and actually gave me a chance to redeem myself by saying, “Oh, so what are you writing?”
Did I grab the life belt that she had thrown me, did I heck! “Nothing much. Just a few scribbles for my blog,” I replied, almost apologetically. “Lovely.” she said, obviously wishing she’d never asked. I, ashamedly, went back to my ‘scribbling’.
Why did I find it so difficult to admit to being a writer? If I’d said yes to the lady in the coffee shop she might even have asked me for my autograph!
I suppose the problem is that I don’t yet have the confidence to call myself a writer. I’ve not written any books, or poems, not had any short stories published or been successful in any writing competitions. Aren’t these the sorts of things that ‘real writers’ do?
But I do have this blog. Does that count as being a ‘writer’? I’m writing. I electronically put my thoughts down on electronic paper and I have an audience. I may not personally know the audience but it is growing and some of my readers are kind enough to respond to my writing. I suppose that makes me a writer – of sorts.
Clearly a writer has to write but does a writer have to publish? What is meant nowadays by ‘publishing’ anyway? Once upon a time it was much more straight forward – get an agent and get your book published, in the traditional, accepted way. Easy!
Nowadays self-publishing is so simple and much more acceptable than it used to be. So much so that anybody can do it. So why haven’t I? I think it’s because I still don’t think I’m quite ready. I feel as though I am still learning the craft. Or is that just an excuse?
I found these words of encouragement from the author Robin McKinley so next time a lady in a coffee shop smiles at me, I will be ready.
“For anyone who is: just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.”