Writer Does Not Mean Better

Nonfiction by | June 8, 2008

Many beginning writers have this complex about them. You know the type. The ones who proudly rub their one and only published work in your face and look down on you as if they’re the ones who control the rotation of the earth on its axis. I can only scoff and force myself to shut my trap, lest I hurl obscenities at them for being too giddy and pretentious.

I admit I was something like this when I didn’t know any better. The first time I saw my name on the paper, I was pumped with so much adrenaline and pride that I forgot to be humble. And at the high times of my braggadocio, I somersaulted and fell flat. Just like that. So I had to get up again, start from scratch, wondering how I was able to write that one damned thing that propelled me to temporary fame, because, all of a sudden, I could not reproduce it. I began writing shitty drafts once more… five, ten, twenty, and finally, I got my name printed for the second time. And because I had already published something, I could not take it when one of the editors told me I couldn’t write. I seriously wanted to slap my first article on his face. But then again, in retrospect, who was I to question his opinion? Another thing, shouldn’t I have learned from my first downfall?

I was close to giving up, but I forced myself to try one more time, with thicker skin and a more accommodating attitude. If I wanted to survive in this trade, I had to let go of being a prima donna and learn to swallow criticism. I wasn’t perfect. I’m not, still. There are so many things I have yet to discover, and more things I will probably never learn.

Understand that you’ll never get anywhere if you believe you’re too good compared to everyone else. And you will never ever succeed in what you’re doing if you put a number to the articles you’ve gotten published. A real writer does not count. A writer writes. All you need is a pen, paper, good observation skills, heart, and humility.  

Having a dozen published pieces in your portfolio does not confirm one as a writer. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke puts it, you are a writer if you can’t think of being anything else but one.

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