What is a writer?

Stepping through the squeaking door, he brought a brisk chill from the frostbitten calgarian arctic air into the foyer. So brisk indeed, it chilled his co-worker, the older man with salt-pepper-hair and beard behind the front desk, to the very bones.

“Brrr,” say said collectively, as if bringing truth to the cold, thus proving that it is, in fact, freezing as fuck out there.

The young man closed the door behind him and swiped his employee card at the front desk. The computer screen confirmed his arrival with a simple “IN”.

For a quick minute, they chatted. This and that. All and none. And, of course, the cold.

Then the young man said, “Wish I could have stayed at home. Work on my novel, instead of driving through minus-fourty windchill to come to work.”

The older man chuckled through his grey-black beard. “Ah, we’ve got a writer-folk here,” he said, bringing up the needed equipment for the young man.

“Yeah. I’m a writer.”

Scanning-in the small devices needed for the job, the old man smiled. Not the kind of smile that approves and appreciates, no. The kind that makes you want to punch him the face. The nasty kind. “So, what have you published, huh?”

He said, “Nothing. Yet.”

Louder, clicking on his computer, the old desk-clerk laughed again. “Then you’re not a writer.”

* * *

Welcome to my saturday morning. Ten after five. The temperature was below sanity and way to fucking cold. And this clerk, this safety and compliance guy handing me my stuff, he says I’m not a writer. Meanwhile, I carry the first part of my manuscript with me. It comes with me so I can read through it on my breaks. Mark stuff down. Red-pen what I don’t like. All the beautiful words, which I–the not-writer–wrote with passion and commitment. And this guy tells me that I’m not a writer.

I explained to him that I’m not a professional writer–not getting paid for it. Yet. I’m not a published writer in the sense of having a publisher publishing my writing. True enough. I publish stuff online, collect small pennies as royalties for some articles here and there. No, nobody really pays me. No, nobody really publishes me.

I don’t think he cared.

A blog. A profit sharing site. And my humble attempt to my first big novel after a collection of short stories and poetry–both written in two languages over the years.

But I am not a writer.

Not a writer.

What is a writer?

Wikipedia says:

writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novelsshort storiespoetryplays, news articles, screenplays, or essays. Skilled writers are able to use language to express ideas and their work contributes significantly to the cultural content of a society.

No word of publishing. No word of money. “A person who uses written words[…]” Hold on. Hold on fucking tight: I’m using written words. Right now. This is a word. And this. And this. This.

Whether it’s a hobby, a side job or a full-time thing, writing is writing.

A writer is a writer. 

I know. I know. A lot now, I’ve seen this being said: If you’ve written down words, you’re a writer. Yet, I see just as many people saying things like, “I don’t want to call myself a writer, yet.” Or, “I’m just an aspiring writer.”

People, please, if you write words down, you’re a writer. Aspiring means little. Nothing. You do or you don’t write. Period. Whether it’s a hobby, whether there’s money, whether there are agents and publishers.

People, please, call yourself a writer. Because you are.

Post publish edit: That’s the same old fart that called me, and I quote, “Pussy-whipped” (also with that punch-me-now-smile) for believing in inequality between men and women. Just saying.

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