Sunday, November 29, 2009

How do I know if I'm a writer?

I was trying to upload pictures from the WordSlam event yesterday but sometimes it's really naughty with pictures here. Had this on my mind for a very long time, so I thought that I should ask from you. Yes, you and you. It's called Letter from a Young Frustrated Writer. Enjoy!

Dear Reader,

Hope this meets you well (Isn't that how to start emails formally?).

Let me introduce myself. Do you need my name? Not sure. But I am a young writer who has always loved to write but who is about to forget about the writing game all together. And I have my reasons.

First, it looks sometimes that everyone writes. Yes, to some extent. everyone can pick up a pen and paper and scribble something, even if it makes sense to only them. Isn't a writer anyone that writes? That said, I am even more than all that because I write stories. Well, transfer them from what I see around me into my head then onto the paper or my computer when I tap my keyboard.

So I've been scribbling 'stuff' for years now. Sometimes, my teachers read it and felt that I had real talent. They made me the head of the Creative Writing Group in School. Since then, I've written about five books, none has been published. Is it not publishing that validates my talent and puts my name out there as author? Don't get me wrong I've been making submissions but I always get the decline letters "Thank you for your submission, we will pass on it now" or the milder version "We regret to tell you that we can't publish your story..." I've given up on those publishing houses now. I even considered self publishing at a stage but got scared off because of the expenses. Where on earth will I get that much to invest in something I am not sure will make me money? The banks--they are angry at the moment. My friends--they don't care about what I write. My parents--there are other things to focus on. And hello credit crunch is here!

Sometimes, I enter for these competitions (I do the free ones!) and they don't even acknowledge receipt let alone tell me whether I made a shortlist. Sometimes, I just stopped trying them because I felt it was just sham just like the other awards around (and observers of the Nigerian literary scene understand better!) or was it just my vexation expressed as depression? I don't know.

What's it with this writing thing? Sometimes, I feel I'm not talented. Am I living a mirage or maybe I am really not talented. Maybe I am not a writer. Maybe I should stop wasting my time and do something 'positive', well 'professional' with my life as my mother says.

Do you feel like this too? Am I some strange human being forced to this ugly fate?

I'm sorry for boring you with my rant but please help me! How do I know if I'm a writer?


Young Frustrated Writer


  1. I was reading a book last week at the library called "The Midnight Disease," about the biology of writing and creativity. The love of writing has nothing to do with publishing. It's about loving the process of showing up to a blank page and imprinting your thoughts on it. If you love it, don't stop. Consider yourself lucky for finding something you love enough to do just for its own sake. But if you want to publish, don't stop submitting either. Authors (as separate from writers) have cultivated an ability to weather the storms of rejection, and have likely been rejected far more times than accepted. Par for the course!

  2. Like the first comment, par for the course. I am a writer and I enjoy doing it. But I want to be an author too so more people can read my scribbles. I've gone the self publishing line. The end is not money though it would be good to make some LOL, but recognition and motivation. No matter how much we say we write for ourselves, nothing beats someone else reading and acknowledging our stories.

    All the best young writer, don't be too frustrated.

  3. I will just say keep trying and remember that all the famous authors you know went through this period. REmember that playwright Noel Coward said "Thousands of people have talent. i might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. the one and only thing that counts is:do you have staying power?"
    Also, don't look at publishing houses that reject you as wicked, re evaluate your work. This has happened to me before and I re evaluated my work, tried to improve and resend in the end i was published there. Writing is not just about talent o, its about hardwork a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance.

  4. a young artist loves to draw cartoon sketches and applied for a job in his field to almost all companies he could find... but it seemed like all those companies turned him down saying he got no real talent... he arrived at a stage of his job hunting where he couldn't afford transportation and food anymore... one evening, he got stuck in a corner and sat around with garbage... all down and discouraged... but he didn't give up... he believed in what he has. That night... he made friends with a mice.. he drawed a sketch of that mice and named it MICKEY MOUSE. The young man is Walt Disney.

    Never give up your dream! IT's when you're hit hardest that you shoudn't give up. Yes there are already many writers out there... but there's a story that only you can write... and people are waiting for that... at the right moment and at the right time. Keep pushing forward and you'd make it.