Can I call myself a writer now? Am I a proper writer if I’ve never been published? Is it weird to tell people I’m a writer when I only have a blog post about my failed NaNoWriMo attempts to show for it?
These are the sorts of questions that all writers (or whoever) grapple with at some point in their life.
Eddie Mars was grappling with these very questions while he tried to update his Twitter bio.
“Writer, gamer, biscuit lover”
He mashed the backspace button in embarrassment.
“Science fiction aFICTIONnado”
Stupid – backspace.
“Aspiring author. Fan of Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica. #MountainUnbeliever”
Aspiring – the word felt accurate, but flimsy. Insulting. He deleted the whole thing.
“Can’t think of what to say here, existential crisis, lol send help”
That was the most eloquent summary of his Twitter-self he had thought of all day.
‘Can you even call yourself aspiring if you’ve only written 200 words in the past month?’
Eddie froze. If he’d had hackles they’d have been raised. He had definitely heard it that time. ‘Hello?’ he called as loud as he could. One of his housemates called back, but they were too distant to have been the original culprit. ‘Who said that?’ he hissed. There was no verbal response, even when he repeated the question. He eyed the glass of wine that sat beside his laptop, and wondered if that was the culprit.
Eddie grasped the edge of his desk and closed his eyes. His head started to spin slightly. ‘Ok…’ he said, unsure how else to respond to an unplaceable ghostly remark. It had to be a glitch in his perception, that was all. A product of alcohol, a creative mindset, and probably also something to do with the blue light in the computer. He threw an old used tissue into the wine glass to stop himself from drinking any more of it, and his eyes fell back on the empty Twitter bio box. The cursor was blinking at him, mocking him.
He closed his laptop and –
‘Well if you can’t even write a Twitter bio…’
‘Right!’ He wrenched the laptop open and hammered his password in. “Writer-ish”.
‘That’ll do!’ he snapped, to Twitter, to the empty air, and to himself. The only sound left in the room was Eddie’s own wheezing breath above the tired whir of his laptop. He strained his ears for any whisper. ‘I need to calm the fuck down,’ he told himself.
Still, despite their probable non-existence, the words had dug at something sore at the back of Eddie’s mind. Can you really call yourself aspiring…?
He jammed his headphones as far into his ears as they would go and stared at the laptop screen before him, blinkering his eyes with his hands. He was still on his empty Twitter feed. He’d read an article somewhere – about a dozen of them in fact – that said authors need to be social now, even if it is just online. Gone are the days of hermitage and creative isolation; no more recluses, no more Salingers or Pynchons. The marketplace is crowded; she with the most retweets wins.
Eddie knew, of course he knew, that you can’t promote a novel that doesn’t exist. But you can damn well promote yourself. And was that definitely a bad thing?
‘Fuck it.’ He switched to a more electronically aggressive Spotify playlist and went to WordPress.
‘What are you going to blog about that hasn’t been said a thousand -‘
‘Shut up shut up shut up!’
Writing is writing is writing, I suppose. I hope so, anyway. Maybe we should both get going now back to Word or Scivenger, or whatever you’re working with.
At least when I hit that ‘publish’ button I can call myself a writer again for a bit. A blog post gets you a week, I’d say. But the year I got from that short story is due to expire.