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To be or not to be a writer, that is the question

Updated on August 12, 2017

I've written about this topic before, but never felt compelled to publish any of it in this venue. However, I've been munching on it since I read Petra Vlah's article What it Takes to be a Great Writer.

In her intro, Petra wrote: Many people define themselves as writers just because they write; "the cogito ergo sum" does not exactly parallel "I write, therefore I am a writer".

If I've said it once or ten thousand times: The fact that one can string words together doesn't make them a writer. The question that follows, then, is: What defines a writer? Ironically, it's extremely hard for me to define what is, I find it easier to define what is not, and then only in relation to myself.

To be or not to be

I've pondered about this enough to have come to a conclusion that pertains only to myself: I think I'm not a writer. Better than think, I'm convinced I'm not, though it's challenging to explain why because, these days, everyone calls themselves a writer and thinks nothing of it. Vive la vie! I sustain that I'm not a writer based on perception, feelings, and needs, or lack of thereof.

Perception

Credit: http://www.ideachampions.com
Credit: http://www.ideachampions.com

I perceive writing as a can't-do-without activity for writers. I can certainly do without, although I have fun with the task, but it's not a consuming need.

I don't go round in life thinking what I'm going to write next and how I'm going to feel writing it. I perceive, and I insist this is my perception, writers do think about that, they have a lover's relationship with their work, they want to please and be pleased with it.

Feelings

I don't feel writing in my veins. Writing is rather a mental activity for me, a self-challenge that lets me play with one of my favorite toys: language.

I feel very strongly about language being a defining trait for individuals, language is never innocent, much as individuals may think they use it innocently. In a way, that's probably why I think I'm not a writer, there is too much thought, too much consciousness to my stringing words together.

Needs

I do need water. I also *need* reading. Writing? Not so much.
I do need water. I also *need* reading. Writing? Not so much.

I don't need to write to be or feel happy or complete. Writing is a recreational activity, a mental challenge as I said. Playing with language is fun and educational, and eventually engaging an audience can also be fun and attractive, but it's really not a need.

I hear most writers expressing this feeling of not being able to NOT write, not being able to conceive life without writing. This is so not true for me. Furthermore, writing takes work, effort, investing one's pretty little head into the words, into conveying a meaning. I'm sure I don't feel the inclination to work that hard outside of office hours, I only get "the call" every now and again.

Audacity and ability

These are, finally, two qualifiers that apply to me, but they still don't make me a writer, primarily because audacity and ability aren't necessarily defining traits for being a writer, in my opinion, they are defining traits of my personality at large. I'm audacious and capable, but not only for writing, for many other things too, so writing is nothing special, in that sense.

Pssst: Please don't confuse ability with talent. Those who play the violin or the piano will understand what I mean. Ability or skills are not the same as talent. Mozart had talent. Shakespeare had talent.

"(...) it takes the audacity to attempt kidnapping the reader’s attention while having the courage to expose your own vulnerabilities and, most of all, it takes the natural ability to bring emotions into play." Petra Vlah

Feedback and audience

Credit: http://www.product-reviews.net
Credit: http://www.product-reviews.net

Feedback to improve is good, and I think it's likely that writers should aspire to get some, but I really don't, it's a very odd occasion when I go out of my way to ask for any input, and those who know me know I speak the truth here. There are two reasons for that:

First off, and at the risk of sounding detached, I don't live off an audience. I just don't care what anybody thinks of my love letters, not really, or that the romance genre is so underestimated. Seriously, I don't give a damn. If romance isn't your thing, then don't read them love letters.

I know what I like and I go for that, I never try to pass for something I'm not. Ironically, some will argue this probably makes me more of a writer than your average Jane, I'm not though, let's be real.

Second, I write mostly to challenge myself, and I give myself my best. When I round up a new piece it's a challenge overcome, I move on. Now, who says improvement isn't nice and good and pretty? If someone gives me a good tip on how to make a piece better, I'll use it 'cause my mamma didn't raise no silly kid.

I'm not immune to comments, but that's not really feedback, is it? That's a nice social interaction, and it's especially intriguing when a particular piece raises comments that are way superior to the piece itself. I feel a sort of idiotic pride at that, but evidently it never makes me think I'm a writer --I mean, if the comments are better than the piece, the most I can think is that I have a knack for thought provoking argumentation.

Why write, then?

Given to introspection as I am, I've evidently reflected about my drivers. The easy way out is this: Because I can. Duh.

A more genuine reason, however, relates to my love of language and my complete admiration for the capacity to convey meaning and sense and reason with words. And no, that doesn't make a writer, either, the same as loving soccer with a passion doesn't make a soccer player.

Writing something and posting it for the world to see tells me, ultimately, if I'm capable of conveying exactly what I wanted to convey. This is a powerful driver.

Credit: http://elenec.files.wordpress.com
Credit: http://elenec.files.wordpress.com

And here's the underlying and deeper reason: Language is a defining trait, we are how we speak, not the other way around. That is, the perception that we speak or write how we are is not accurate in my opinion.

We may think we are a certain way, we may perceive ourselves in a certain manner, but if our words put another message through for the audience, then others will fail to see us as we see ourselves.

And if we think we are a certain way but can't express it, then we really aren't that way at all for the world we interact with. That is why language is defining, I believe, and that is why I endeavor to master it.

Was that quite a mouthful for your pretty little heads? I encourage you to read it again to understand the point. Go on!

To question or not to question

Credit: http://cdn.ilovetypography.com
Credit: http://cdn.ilovetypography.com

And the important question

I wonder who else has similar thoughts about writing. I wonder who else nods upon reading "the 'cogito ergo sum' does not exactly parallel 'I write, therefore I am a writer'".

Does anybody else wonder about their drivers? Does anyone ever question the fact that only talking about being a writer doesn't make you one?

Does this sound provocative? I hope so. Does it sound detached? I expect so. Does this sound like I'm singling YOU out to explain exactly why your think you are a writer? I know I want to.

© 2010 Elena.

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    • bzirkone profile image

      bzirkone 4 years ago from Kansas

      Good hub. Made me think.

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 4 years ago from Madrid

      Cheers, Safaa - and much luck with your writing enterprises! :)

    • Safaa Gul Taher profile image

      Safaanur Taher 4 years ago from Bahrain

      I love writing , and I feel myself revived whenever I write something new ... writing to me is a spiritual renewal ... writing gives me a chance to ponder more deeply ,, we writers are thinkers .. i loved what you have written.. be or not to be :D i will be a great author one day ,,

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 5 years ago from Madrid

      Hi mathira - That's an original one :-) Thanks for commenting!

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 5 years ago from chennai

      Good one Elena ,I write because I am able to think aloud.

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Right! I hope my own investment will send my inexistent son to school :-)

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Inflation has indeed made it to my little burg, but I found a couple of pennies on the road, so I thought I'd invest them here!

    • Elena. profile image
      Author

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Nothing to be sorry for, Candie :-) I see inflation has not made it to your neck of the woods, now I wonder what I'll do with the change from 2 cents! Laugh! Maybe I'll start a trust fund for my inexistent 4 year old son! :-P

      Thanks for being a commentator here, you gave me a good morning smile, hugs right back at you!

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Sorry for the lateness of my entrance..

      If I comment, am I a commentator? In my humble opinion.. and I have several opinions not worthy of wording.. I want to be educated and entertained. I don't want to work at what I read (unless I have to: job etc) So, to that end you're one of my faves.. as is Frieda and Cris. That's my 2 cents.. keep the change! Hugs E!

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      I appreciate that, Niall :) I don't think there's any such thing as "too much thought", if anything, there's too little of it in the world!

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hello, Linda! Laughing at onself is fundamental to keep sane. I do it, matter of course, at least once a day! :)

      At the moment, I'm in this period where I can't be bothered to write two words, partly because I'm so busy at work, but also because just, well, I can't be bothered. Makes mi giggle, if not laugh out loud, that somebody would call me a writer :-)

      But: I'm glad I gave you something to think about :-)

    • Linda MS Enos profile image

      Linda Mi Suk Enos 7 years ago from Beautiful Manoa Valley

      Thank you Elena, as always very thought provoking! I appreciate your hubs :) it gives me much to pause about and reflect on. After I'm done licking my wounds I always manage to laugh at myself despite what I think I am :)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Yup! Superion to mine in every sense! See? Sometimes it pays to listen to me! Laugh!

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      Elena, thank you! It's excellent!

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      I think, in a way, I was one of those with "loftier" thoughts in regards to what being a writer is :) I changed my mind a bit, to less loftier thoughts, however, when I read Sufidreamer's hub, it's linked up above and I send anyone (who will listen to me, so not many!) to it :) If you go read that hub, I think you will enjoy it, SilverGenes.

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      Thank you and I'm very pleased to meet you, too. Perhaps rather than meeting any definition, we are all works in progress. Oddly, at the time I was writing for a living I did not refer to myself as a writer, but rather as someone who wrote commercially for a living. The term 'writer' was reserved for those who thought far loftier thoughts than I :)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hi SilverGenes! Definitions are in a way confining, I agree, but sometimes it's apt to use them, at least from our own point of view, when we see so many people using them in so many different ways, to at least describe what the definition means to us when we use it.

      'Artist', 'writer', 'painter' are terms that appear to have many different definitions, depending on who uses those terms. I can't really pinpoint what being a writer is to me, instead I can define why I'm not one. And I don't feel particularly confined, so that's good :)

      In a venue like this, this topic is interesting because all of us here write, and I wonder how many call themselves writers :-)

      Nice to meet you, by the way!

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      Elena, that rambling comment above is from me. Hubpages signed me out while I was typing so it went in anonymously.

    • profile image

       7 years ago

      Elena, I did read and reread as you suggested:) This is very similar to the definition of 'artist'. In that area, if one is being paid for art, then one is an artist but it must be further defined. One is a graphic artist, an illustrator etc. And so there are writers: commercial writers, technical writers, novelists, poets, copywriters and so on. For me, definitions are by nature, confining. I'm not, by definition, a writer anymore since I no longer write for payment. I communicate ideas. Something real moves me and I strive to share the experience and the effect it had on me to whoever reads or looks at my creation. Some succeed and some don't. Some I love the second they are complete and within an hour, see only the flaws. As I gain years of experience, I have come to recognize that what I see as flaws may not be problems at all: it may be truth. Why do I write now? To leave a part of myself behind for those who will be glad I did. This is a very interesting and thought-provoking hub. Thank you.

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hi bingskee! Thakns for your comment! Yes, talent has something to do with it :) About the difference between "technical writing" and "inspired writing", I recommend you read the hub Sufidreamer linked about the different types of writing and writers. Aside from being WONDERFUL, it refers to this topic: some writers are indeed technical but no less writers because of that. I simpy loved that article!

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 7 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      i tend to agree more with polly c and de greek. it's just like they have what i have in mind about the topic.

      writing, for me, is a talent that not everybody has. there are a lot who can write but not all of them can write beautifully. i would like to simply state it as that - a writer is one who writes beautifully. it can be subjective but it all boils down to talent.

      to technically write something is different from writing with inspiration. they both have goals but the other i believe requires ability and the other, talent.

      very nice hub.

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Howdo, ralwus - At any rate, I think I'm right about me. For the others, I leave it up to them to judge :-)

    • profile image

      ralwus 7 years ago

      I'm still working on me. Don't much worry about anyone else, but you're right on so much so many times.

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Yes, absolutely, De Greek, I fully agree with you and in fact that was what this article was about, being critical with oneself. I refer back to Petra Vlah's fabulous intro:

      "Many people define themselves as writers just because they write; 'the cogito ergo sum' does not exactly parallel 'I write, therefore I am a writer'."

      In my self-analysis, I deem I'm not one of those pesky writers, and I end up questioning how many others that jot down their compositions ask the same question to thmselves.

      Right-o. After all is said and done, I think you and I are in complete agreement :-)

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      You might be right. But on the other hand I have seen here so many people who actually BELIEVE that they are writers, though an impartial eye is immediately in a position to tell them otherwise, should they wish to hear the truth, which of course they do not. Regrettably they are tragically deceiving themselves and to them it is the fault of everyone else that they are not acknowledged as the new John Gresham.

      I have been fortunate in making friends here who are too polite to tell me of my own bottomless lack of talent, but as I have no aspirations to be an author, the damage is not irreparable. :D

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      OI De Greek, I beg to disagree, respectfully so :-) It can only be with the reader in the writer (or presumed, attempted writer) is not given to self analysis and introspection. But if such person that jots words down on paper possessed a measue of introspection and self-critizism, the definition can lay within, too :-*

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      .

      The definition can only BE with the reader. The fact that I think I am a writer does not make me one. I could be deluding myself. And it is so easy to delude oneself :-D

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hi, De Greek!

      This is well put: "At the end of the day, if someone has written something which makes you WANT to turn the page and see what comes next, then that someone is a writer."

      BUT, it leaves the definition of writer with the READER, as opposed to leaving it with the one doing the writing, I cannot really answer the question, READERS need to answer it :-)

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      So a writer is someone who

      • Cannot do without writing

      • Who feels writing in his/her veins

      • Someone who NEEDS to write

      With respect, I would suggest that there are countless people who fall into that group, but irrespective of how generous one might feel, one cannot in all honesty call them writers.

      As you so rightly said, let’s not confuse ability with talent. Shakespeare copied his stories from elsewhere, but the way he WROTE the same things someone else had written about previously, made so much difference.

      At the end of the day, if someone has written something which makes you WANT to turn the page and see what comes next, then that someone is a writer.

      Put more simply: If you leave a book behind on an airplane and cannot wait to go and buy another one in order to what happened next, then that book was written by a real TRUE author. If you couldn’t care less, then that book was a waste of good trees. And let’s face it. There are millions of books out there which, when combined together, add to a terrible rape of the environment.

      So, are you an writer? ANSWER: Do your readers want to turn the page?

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Devsir, you brought a smile to my face, the first of the day, thank you! :)

    • devsir profile image

      devsir 7 years ago from Earth

      Just 2 words for your hub : Excellent and Excellent again.

    • Elena. profile image
      Author

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      You and I both, Jane! For me it's not a suspicion, though, I know it. I guess the only difference between you and I is that I do read a lot, probbly enough for the two of us combined :-)

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hello Elena,

      I've had a creeping suspicion for a while now that I'm not really a writer. It seems I IMAGINE being a writer much more than a I actually write. I imagine the books I could write, the songs, the poetry, the stupendously interesting plays and film scripts...but I don't actually DO any of it.

      Furthermore I can, and have for long periods of time, lived without jotting down a single thing...or even given writing a thought. I don't read enough. It's not an all-consuming passion. I'm not brave enough to *get naked* in a literary sense....god, I'm not a writers bootlace...lol

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

      Elena, ::blush:: Thank you! We are all glad you write anything at all. You keep us awake, honest, inspired, and on our toes!

    • Elena. profile image
      Author

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hiya, Linda! I may know how to stir up introspection, but you certainly know how to post WONDERFUL comments :-) Sometimes, on reading them, I wish I'd thought to phrase it like that myself... then again, I guess I should just be glad I wrote anything at all, to then be graced with your presence and your commentary ;-)

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

      Hi Elena,

      You certainly do know how to stir up introspection...

      As you (correctly) pointed out in your piano player vs. pianist juxtaposition, some people are born with an innate gift. Perhaps the ability to draw, write, sing, whatever. The gift is inherent - simply there or not there.

      Some, like my nephew, who is a musical savant, are born with a gift, but he is completely disinterested in it. That does not mean he is not a musician.

      I, on the other hand, have played the piano my whole life. My ability is learned not inherent, and, therefore, lacks the magic that the listener hears when someone with 'the gift' sits down to play. The fact that I learned the mechanics does not mean I am a musician.

      I am also not a writer - the reality of the genetic draw.

      A gift can't be denied or assumed. It just is, and there are a few floating around who obviously have 'it'.

      That doesn't mean we shouldn't write though- Like ethel smith says, having fun with it is good enough for what I'm doing!

      Thumbs up as usual!

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      JL, that is the point exactly, to be able to convey one's thoughts effectively, either to cause others to feel emotions, or to make them think, or... The fact that one's able to do this, however, doesn't necessarily mean one is a writer. I certainly don't feel like one :-)

    • jlwhets profile image

      jlwhets 7 years ago from West Branch, Iowa

      Wow.

      As I was reading this I became excited as I feel the same way. When I began to write with serious effort, I was looking at the challenge of trying to express my mental images in words verses in a drawing or a painting.

      At times I feel language is very limiting, but as you point out, therein lies the challenge of conveying your thoughts effectively. It is a great challenge, a fun challenge and it is nice to know there are others with the same perspective who are great writers!

      Thanks for writing this hub.

    • devsir profile image

      devsir 7 years ago from Earth

      Interesting to read. I liked it

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      MT Dremer, indeed by this definition you DO sound like the genuine thing :-) I like this sentence in your comment: "I would argue that actually being a writer is a greater curse than thinking you're a writer and not actually being one." I think all writers would very likely agree with you :-)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      WA Christopher – That issue about good writing was mentioned somewhere in a previous comment. I purposefully left out the quality matter outside my musings, because then it's a no brainer :) There would be few writers "left standing" if we add the good or bad qualifier to this reflection, at least in my opinion. Then again, "good and bad" is kind of subjective, not only subjective, there are parameters by which one can measure good or bad writing, but in any event I purposefully left it out of my considerations :-)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Ethel, guess you are right, but I have fun watching "House" and I'm not a doctor! Laugh

      Silliness aside, I get what you meant, and yes, having fun is a very good reason for DOING something, writing or anything else, but then I wouldn't call myself a writer just for that :-)

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 7 years ago from United States

      Well, by this definition I'm definitely a writer. I don't sleep with paper and pen in hand, but my mood can rise or fall based on how much writing I did or didn't do and how good I perceived the writing I did do. Plus, my entire future revolves around writing (in my head anyway). As I don't see myself qualified for any other jobs, other than writing. I'm constantly thinking about the stories that I've written and how I can improve them, and I'm so meticulous with the details that I can't ever be satisfied enough with one to try to publish it!

      In fact, I would argue that actually being a writer is a greater curse than thinking you're a writer and not actually being one. To be a writer is to be a self-critiquing moneyless-person who can never live up to their own expectations.

    • WA Christopher J. profile image

      WA Christopher J. 7 years ago from First American Ruins, MI

      Whenever someone mentions that they are in fact "a writer", I ask one critical question: "What is it that you have written?"

      It doesn't make me any (new) friends, but despite my propensity to write, I can confidently tell them, "I'm not a writer either." Because I, like them, have not written anything worth mentioning.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Late popping back Elena. Having fun is as good a reason as any :)

    • Elena. profile image
      Author

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hi, Dobson! Well, as you can see I have no fear of writing it up and exposing it for the world to see :-) This is quite personal, I really don't know if it could apply to others, but the thought process behind it, regardless of the conclusion, could and should apply to all, I think.

    • Dobson profile image

      Dobson 7 years ago from Virginia

      You have uncovered some truths that writers will not publicly admit for fear of being considered frauds. Nice hub detailing the steps to a consummate anlaysis.

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      You and I both, amigo, let's be confounded but NOT sad! :-)

      I think you're right, I mostly referred to fiction writing, not consciously but kind of by implication. I'm not entirely sure why, I guess it's again like you said, I relate the emotional attachment and drive and so on more to creative fiction writing than any other type. Maybe a bit simplistic of me, but well, I said it once and I will repeat it: this piece refers mostly to me so I hope I didn't insult anyone! :-)

      Now, SMILE and cheer up!

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I knew it! I'm not a writer! Haha Thanks for explaining it to me - the things I cannot put into words but which keep on niggling and reinforcing my doubts about my not being a writer in the true blue sense of the word. You made me sad. Sad but enlightened so it's okay I guess. Haha

      That said, I think however that your ruminations herein about the qualifications of a writer sit better with fiction writers (as opposed to nonfiction writers) - the drive, the inspiration, the emotional involvement, the length of time it takes writing, the creativity etc etc. But then again I may be wrong Haha Now I'm confoundedly sad :D

    • Sufidreamer profile image

      Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      Thanks for the kind words, Elena (An ego-boost on a Monday morning is always good) :D

      You have inspired a new Hub - I am going to do a capstone and collect all of these Hubs together into one place. This Hub, and a few others, are 'must reads' for new writers, whether creative, technical, or academic.

      What impresses me most is that writers like you, Petra, Cris A, Tantrum, and Shalini can do it in a second language. That is awesome...I hope that I can write in Greek, one day!

      @Tony: Looks like we think alike. I love your use of the word 'Forms.' I might have to work Plato into the Hub :D

    • Elena. profile image
      Author

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hi, Tony! I'm so glad that I made you think about this! I'm also glad that I indirectly sent you to Sufi's article :-)

      What you say, "writing means more than conveying information. Writing means making the words come alive to the reader" is close to what Sufi states in his own piece. I would agree with both of you, I can't bring myself to call myself a writer, though, maybe because I don't "feel" it in my own writing.

      Like I said in a previous comment, this is the typical piece of mine where comments become more substantial and interesting than the article itself :-) Guess I should be proud of that!

    • Elena. profile image
      Author

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Of course I won't delete your comment, dang if it isn't one of the best pieces EVER in the hubisphere!

      As I replied to Frieda, I guess both of you are right in the definition being a matter of opinion. I was careful in this article to apply my "conclusion" only to myself, although I do wonder and speculate what others think on the matter, and whether anyone else reflected about the meaning of being a writer. Evidently, through the comments and through your article, I realize that YES, I'm not the only one wondering :-)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting Hub and it made me think about what I mean when I say I am a writer - and I do say so! Because for me writing is a passion - not just writing but the struggling with ideas and thoughts and how to put them across so that others can share what is going on in my mind. That might seem rather a pompous and even patronising thing to say and I think it is nevertheless real and useful. I believe I have something worthwhile to say and want to say it! In saying it I just hope that someone else will enjoy what I say or find it useful in some way!

      A writer to me is someone who wrestles with words to put them into a form that will move and engage others by their beauty and truth (however one might define those two debated and questioned words). A writer is one who is engaged with words and the way words convey meaning to others, in a way similar to the way a composer uses notes and rhythms to engage and entertain the listener, or a painter uses colours and forms.

      Writing to me entails far more than just the conveying of information. Writing means making the words come alive to the reader - and I can't conceive of writing without a reader. My journals are full of writing that is for me alone, but that is not the purpose or the reason for writing - those are writing exercises and ways of dealing with my own angst and fears. The real writing comes when I face a blank computer screen with my thoughts, my memories, my experiences, and say to myself, "How can I give account of myself to the world in words that will make sense to other people? What would other people be interested in reading, what would engage their imaginations and their emotions?"

      I have always written, though now that I have retired from formal employment I write more and with more purpose. There are a number of book projects that I am working on, some in more advanced stages than others.

      Thanks for making me reflect on this issue. Reflection is the way I learn best and sometimes it is really helpful to get a push such as you have just given me!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Sufidreamer profile image

      Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      I don't normally self-promote, but I have a hub that you may be interested in:

      http://hubpages.com/hub/Fops-Dandies-and-Luvvies-H...

      I won't be offended if you delete this comment!

    • Sufidreamer profile image

      Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      Great Hub, Elena - defining the term 'writer' is a topic that comes up often. I have had this discussion with Shadesbreath many times, and we are still no closer to an answer. Certainly, the internet has changed things and writers are undergoing a bit of an identity crisis.

      I think that Frieda is right about the 'matter of opinion' - it is all relative. For me, a writer must be able to mould words and shape language - if you see words as living, breathing things, then you are well on the way. To be a great writer, you have to have the 'Secret of Power' - Pam Grundy and Freida know what that is. I think that you know it, too ;)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Violet, I'd never argue that Pam Grundy IS a writer and a GREAT one at that :-) Now on writing this, I'm afraid this is going to be a case where the discussions in comments end up being way better than the article itself! Laugh!

      Hi Frieda! You have a good point when you say "Overall I think that what constitutes a writer is a matter of opinion, much like beauty." Maybe I would apply this sentiment to "good" and "not good writer", instead of just to "writer", but I fundamentally agree that it makes sense to leave what is a writer open to interpretation entirely. In fact, my ponderings only really apply to me, as I said in the article :-)

      Now, a part of me can write, I think we agree on this, but I simply don't think and don't see myself as a writer. I'm not uncomfortable, I'm just unconvinced ;-) Besos to you!

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      I've always thought of myself as a writer, but I have also always questioned this thought. There is a difference between what I write commercially and what I write to write, (though they often go hand in hand),does that make sense? I don't need feedback or reaction that is tangible, but it's rather nice, though I have to say I'm normally onto something else fairly quickly. I don't spend endless and countless hours a day writing, but I do tend to write at odd times because of an urge and stream that will be forgotten or not what it should be if I waited. I do tend to love to read and organize more than anything else. Most of all I love to figure things out. That doesn't sound very much like I am a writer. And perhaps I'm not, perhaps I just simply write. But I do it because I want to, not because I have to, and I don't write if I don't want to. I write for the challenge, I write for the expression, I write to create. I tend to write a lot when I do write, but I have always been long winded. Overall I think that what constitutes a writer is a matter of opinion, much like beauty. I question every book on a shelf and I have my favourites. In fact I don't think that one can categorize what does or doesn't make a writer, as you have done here, (though it offers much food for thought) because there are all kinds of writers and all kinds of reasons for being one or not being one. I'd better stop babbling now, lol.

      And yes, Elena, a part of you is a writer and you cannot convince me otherwise. I know that my saying so may make you feel uncomfortable, but this is the truth as I understand it. One doesn't have to be a writer all of the time or only a writer all of the time, to be a writer.

      Wonderful hub.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Elena: Point well taken. I understand what yer are saying, and when further reflecting,I write for the fun of it, and read hubs for fun too and don't pay attention to whether someone is a good writer or not in general; however, when I come across someone who is very skilled at writing like Pam Grundy, I learn from them. Pam to me is practically a teacher without her trying on how to catch attention with skilled articles. I love her work so follow her blogs. :)

      Hey, thanks for writing this, made me reflect and maybe get off topic a little, you raised some good points!

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      We're two of a kind then, Ethel, and the good thing is both of us have fun with it :-)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I know I am not a writer. I have improved and enjoy "playing". I am fine with this lol

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hello, hello – Thanks as always :-)

      Polly, if in your heart you feel you need to write, then I'd say you may call yourself a writer, even if you're lazy sometimes, I mean, tennis players must be lazy sometimes, too, right? :) That's my personal take of course. The matter of "being paid" to write, or getting some sort of compensation from your writings, is probably a measure used by many to decide if they are writers. It's not a measure I would personally use, because so many of those who get paid for it are SO crappy :-) but well, that's my own opinion again.

      I thank you for the compliment on my skills, you're very kind. I don't have my head up in the clouds, that's for sure :-)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Norah, nice to meet you! The difference between writer and story teller may be insignificant if you feel *the need* to tell the story. I'm glad to hear you've also given this "being a writer" thing some thought, means I'm not entirely bananas, eh? :-)

      Of course you can disagree, it's so nice that you do it respectfully :-) And you know what? I think you've got a fabulous point with your comment. My question (not really back to you, just throwing it out there) is whether the examples you listed would make sense in today's world? I mean, could we find a renowned writer today that operates with the same criteria as these wonderful examples you posted? Probably, so I think you made a very valid point!

      On this being a difficult subject, yes, it did occur to me that I may be opening a can of worms, but you may take a look at some of my other hubs and you will notice I'm not precisely ... squeamish... to address difficult subjects :-)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Petra, from your comment, I guess you are what I'd call a writer, down to your little toes, up to the last hair in your head :-) Though I don't suppose I needed to read your comment to realize that, as your article to which I liked made that quite clear already. Thank for the visit!

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 7 years ago from UK

      Hi there, Elena. You have written a thought-provoking hub and I read it with great interest. You've certainly brought up some excellent points. Sometimes I have asked myself the same question - am I a writer or not? I don't really consider myself a writer either, because in order to do that then I would have to have some sort of recognition, or a paid job in which writing was the main focus, but I don't have either of those things. However, I always live with this underlying feeling that if I don't somehow attain a little bit of success, or at least try to, then I will feel an element of regret. It's a nagging feeling, as in my heart I really do need to write, though sometimes I'm lazy and can't be bothered, if that makes any sense at all. A lot of the time I, too, would rather read a book than make the effort!

      Finally, I would just like to say that, for someone who doesn't consider themselves a writer, you are very good at it - far better than many people who live with their heads in the clouds! Thank you for a great read :)

    • Elena. profile image
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      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Hello and good morning everyone!

      Violet, squirming and reflecting are both good :-) You make a distinction between being a writer and being a good writer, which I avoided even mentioning in my piece since It's hard enough to come to the "decision" whether one is a writer or not, if we add the "good or bad" qualifier, then WHOOOPS we get into major trouble! What's good for some is bad for others, right? Though, if we stick to some basic principles, I think we may be able to agree on what's good or not. But like I said, I didn't even want to take it that route :-)

      Feline, I know you and I feel pretty much the same about this writing business, and the reading rather than writing? All the way there with you, my darling cat!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A very interesting read and thought provoking. Thank you.

    • Norah Casey profile image

      Norah Casey 7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Hello Elena,

      Great hub! I agree with most of your points on what makes someone who writes "a writer." This is a distinction I have had trouble establishing for a long time. I go back and forth on whether or not I belong in the writer's closet. I joke with friends that I have other people (characters) living out lives in my head. I can see their belongings, feel their emotions, and know their daily routines. Every once in a while, I will be struck by an idea of what one of them could do. An ex once told me that I sound like I am playing a perpetual game of Clue! in my mind (Example: I said "OH! She can stop him with some poison in the tea! That would be HILARIOUS!" while cleaning the stove). Does this mean I am a writer or a story teller? There is a difference I have difficulty establishing.

      I do respectfully disagree with your section on Feedback. I have known of many great writers who never got feedback on their work, and rarely considered their audience. Jane Austen once said that Emma was a character only she could love. Yet, she published the book anyway. Emily Dickinson was a great poet, but didn't seem to care whether or not the majority of her work ever saw the light of day. There are probably better examples, but those are two I could think of off the top of my head.

      I think this was a difficult subject to tackle, especially on a writer's website. Well done!

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Elena,

      First let me thank you for putting a link to my hub, I appreciate it. Different people write for different reasons and in different ways, but most of them are doing it to fulfill a need (money and glory may be at the bottom of the list for most).

      At times I am almost upset with myself because I can’t stop writing (it is exhausting, you know). The good thing is that I am constantly writing in my head; I am writing when I drive, when I cook or clean the house, I am writing when I stay in line at the supermarket or when I am in a doctor’s waiting room.

      When I get in front of a computer, all I do is typing; everything comes out, just the way I wrote it and my first draft is ready. I let it sit for a few days, but in my head I keep on adding, I keep on making corrections.

      This is the way it is for me, whether I like it or not. If the day when I will not enjoy it ever comes, I will stop writing; the need to write could be a curse as well

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      Feline Prophet 7 years ago

      Elena, you took the words right out of my mouth! The ironical thing is that I'm in the writing and editing business...but when I'm 'off duty' I rarely feel the urge to write. I don't 'have a book in me' for sure and I would rather read than write! :)

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Hola, Elena: Thought provoking hub that will surely make some squirm and others reflect. hehe. I consider myself a writer and have no excuses for it, because I love to use words to share a part of myself, and if one is able to stir emotions through the written word, to my perception a writer's job is being done. :) I may not be the best writer in the world, but the enjoyment is there. When I was in the corporate world, and wrote the auditor's manual and user's guides for our computer systems, that was purely business; the completed work was satisfying but not the process, as it was purely mental. I need to write from my heart for it to be pleasurable and for it to be an art.