Cows that need to die: Why do you think you’re a writer?

It’s getting late here on the third coast, although it’s summer and the sun doesn’t release her hold on the steamy sky until I’m ready to slobber and snore on my pillow. My eyes tell me I have hours to burn, therefore, but the brain knows better. While I don’t believe in writer’s block, my life is not conducive to an allotment of time to pen something amazing, so I’ll just have to throw myself on the mercy of my dear editor and you my readers, and hope you learn something positive over the next few weeks.

I’ll be discussing the following:
- Why do you think you’re a writer?
- No pain no gain – earning that writer street cred
- What’s your delivery? Poet, novelist or somewhere in between
- Who cares? Audience of a million or note to self

I don’t know why you think you’re a writer. Maybe you got a politically correct, gender-neutral participation pin for your last essay. Maybe your mom still has that poem you wrote tacked on her fridge. Maybe you read Stephanie Meyer and thought, “I can do better.” But you got the idea in your noggin somehow, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this bit. Here’s hoping you learn something and that I’ve reached you before you’ve spent half your life pursuing the wrong thing the wrong way for the wrong reasons. If you’re in your twenties – a lost decade isn’t that bad but for the lot of you, this post may generate some stomach acid. I’ll be grilling your sacred bovines now with a side of angst.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

If you’re committed at any level to calling yourself with any degree of frequency “writer,” a couple of cows need to die in order for you to speak truth about yourself.

First: Everybody is a writer. Yup. Okay, almost everybody. But for the majority of us word nerds, writing is a form of communication. Humans use words to convey information. We speak them. We write them down. So as much as it twists my knickers when some village idiot pokes my tome with a tine and says, I’ got a book idea,” truth is, he or she is probably a writer, just like you. If you want to stand out, odds are you’ll have to weaponize yourself with stuff that’s sharper than the local’s pitchforks. (That’s a teaser. We’ll come back to it in the weeks to follow)

Second: You don’t have to love writing to be a successful writer. In fact, you don’t even have to like it. Sorry, there are real writer jobs out there, just like accounting (which I do and I loathe), where I am successful and financially able to be fiscally responsible whilst marinating in my loathing. (translation: I pay my bills, bruh) So, if you are a good writer, success isn’t impossible and certainly not contingent on your personal fulfillment. Success may lie more in your provable skills, than your desire or lack thereof. Depends on your goals and your willingness to invest. Another teaser for you.

Third: You probably will never achieve success as you define it, and if you do, your definition of success may be myopic. The other ugly side of this beast of a coin called success goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway because I’m feeling feisty.

Love won’t put food on the table.

Writer is right up there with rock star and circus clown on the career path. Settle it in your heart now, dear one. Set a goal you can’t reach and find your peace in trying anyway. It will ease the burn, and there’s no harm if you are that one in a bajillion success story, right? We’ll talk about that later too. To wrap up the leftovers, because I’m out of steak sauce and it’s not really my intent to do you harm but rather help you be the best you that you can be, if you don’t already know, I am both writer and editor.

I love writing, but I love writers even more. So if you really think you’re a writer, come back next week. I’ll have fajitas for you and some tips on getting that writer street cred.

Tammy Boehm, Associate Editor