One of my favorite memoirs was written by Carol Burnett.
It’s called called One More Time-
I enjoyed Carol’s book because of the way she wrote about her family and friends. The people in her book were in glorious technicolor.I felt could see them as I read her book. On the other hand my family is full of vivid characters so I could relate.
So, where is this going.
I have been off looking for ideas, listening to music and probably eating to many snacks but it was worth it.
I was cruising around FB one day when I ran across a post in a Writer’s Group and an editor posted something where he said this would probably upset people but… ( oh translated this means I’m going to screw with you guys but that’s okay, right?)
You are NOT a writer because you say so, because that’s what you do. You are not a real writer or an author until someone like him edits your book, you gain ‘approval’ and you end up getting paid.
I have three little stories about that.
When I was just starting out as a guitarist I used to get offers to join bands- as a singer, but not as a guitarist because these bands were looking for “Professional Guitar Players.”
This criteria was set by 16-19 year old BOYS.
I told my music teacher I was sick of hearing that and what did it mean anyway?
My teacher told me, ” Professional means paid. “
He told me to run through the song I had been working on, I did, he reached into his pocket and handed me a dollar. ” Here, you’re now a paid musician. You’re professional. Congratulations.”
As to the milestone- getting paid and published.
Well, by a very rough estimate I won prizes and awards for my writing that ended up being worth a serious chunk of cash before I hit 17, so I guess by those standards I was a professional writer too.
I was in scholastic magazines that went state-wide and I think in a few other cases further than that.
The first time that I was ‘recognized’ as a writer was for a poem and a short story I wrote about a demon cat.
My teacher was so impressed he passed it around to other teachers and writers- all the way to ones who taught college.
That’s right I was EVALUATED and my teacher put together my own lesson plan for the next two years so I could develop my gift, my other teachers followed it to Junior High and it stopped in Highschool because Creative Writing was only taught to Sophomores.
So I applied for extended credit I came up with a new lesson plan and got credit towards Graduating high school for writing.
So my story and poem ( which I hate writing poems and that was the only one I have ever written) were entered in contest I’d never heard of and all I know is I got a check for 20.00 and a certificate and a copy of the magazine which in my infinite wisdom as a 10 year old ( this was in 1973), I cut my stuff out and threw the rest of the magazine away :::facepalm:::
But hey, OTHER people SAID I was a writer and I was good. I was only 10 but whatever right? I was APPROVED BY A HIGHER AUTHORITY
I was in another group where we were doing peer reviews and the only piece out of the dozen or so stories that an editor/writer liked ( which was good actually ) she got up and said and I quote ” YOU WROTE IT EXACTLY THE WAY I WOULD HAVE. THIS IS FANTASTIC!”
Oh seriously, really?
Back to Carol’s book.
One of my favorite quotes was by Carol’s Grandma, ” Nanny”. When Nanny thought you were being how can I say this…you were being a mindless fool, she would say, ” You make my Ass want to chew tobacco.”
Now the imagery in that slays me.
I love it.
When I read those criteria by people who I will never know about what it takes to ‘be a writer ‘ and that most people who read what they said about what it takes to’ be a writer’, will probably never meet and that they took it upon themselves to define people because they have access to the internet and that more then a few people would be discouraged by them all I can say to those haters is:
” You make my ass want to chew tobacco. Shut the hell up, go write something meaningful that could actually help shape a writer or the world in general or give blood or do something useful with your life.
And if you are out there writing, and living the experience and it’s an important part of you life then yes you are a writer.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise
ps I fucking hate bullies