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Random Thoughts: The Aspiring Writer

I’ve always wondered about the accuracy of the term “aspiring writer.”  Most people I’ve known who describe themselves as aspiring writers aren’t really aspiring to be writers. They are already writers. They’ve taken pen to paper or put fingers to keyboard and let their words flow out onto the paper or screen. They’ve already begun the process of writing.

And even if their ideas haven’t been committed to the page, they’re creating and writing in their heads, formulating their ideas, developing their characters, imagining their dialogue. To me, these individuals are already writers. Not ones aspiring to write.

Perhaps they are aspiring to be published writers, or aspiring to be novelists, but once someone decides that they want to write something, that they have an idea in mind, aren’t they already writers?

One can aspire to be a successful writer, a famous writer, an accomplished writer, but I’m pretty certain that these folks that say they aspire to be a writer have already written something at one point in their lives or another.

I have yet to meet someone who never had a creative bone in their body, never wrote a thing down, or who never showed any interest in literature or writing, wake up one morning and say, “I aspire to be a writer.”

Most of the people I know that call themselves by this term have active imaginations. They’ve written many stories when they were children and they were great storytellers as grew up. They may not have come to the decision that they wanted to pursue a career as a “writer,” but they’ve always been one.

Perhaps when someone says they aspire to be a writer, what they’re really looking to do is put that title down on their resume or business card. Or perhaps they’re simply looking for their colleagues, friends or family to label them as such, with a capital “W” – “My daughter is a Writer.” So, it’s not simply that they aspire to write, but that the world knows them as Writer.

But then if someone has written a number of trunk novels, unpublished or unseen by the world, are they not writers because they can’t put that title on their C.V.? Because they don’t feel that their work should see the light of day, does that mean that they are not writers and only ones still aspiring to write?

I always feel that those who label themselves as aspiring writers aren’t giving themselves enough credit. They are already in that group of individuals, whether they feel worthy of that title or not. Perhaps not all are “authors” as the term is sometimes narrowly defined. Until their work is a finished product maybe the term author might not be appropriate, but they are certainly the writer of that work, even if unfinished.

I suppose there are individuals who’ve never written a thing but imagine a life of creativity that has never been theirs. They don’t have any ideas in mind, but they like the concept of being a writer without knowing the first thing about writing. They want the acclaim, but don’t actually have the natural ability or the learned capability of being one. I haven’t yet met that person, but the world is filled with all sorts. Everyone I’ve met who says they aspire to write all have some ability and a heck of a lot of creativity.

Anyone can say they aspire to do something. It would be like me saying I aspire to be a neurophysicist. I have no training, no idea what it would entail, no natural talent for it, and no plan to actually take steps to pursue this path, but being able to call myself an aspiring neurophysicist sounds pretty awesome.

But I don’t see many professions outside of the creative fields who add “aspiring” to their title. To me, just as with any other profession, you are one or you aren’t. You’re a doctor, lawyer, accountant or you’re not. You’re a writer, an actor, or a singer or you aren’t. But only in the creative fields do you see the term “aspiring” attached. It’s as if there’s an invisible wall up separating those who’ve “made it” and those who haven’t.

I’m not sure who created this division, this hierarchy. I suppose, as with all endeavors, if someone has reached a level of success they want to be seen as different from when they were striving to get to that point. And in the creative fields, there are no real titles that separate the differing levels of accomplishment as there are in business, aside, perhaps, from “New York Times Best-Selling” or more general ones such as “acclaimed” or “award-winning.”

So maybe outsiders like me are just not aware of this secret requirement that writers who have not yet submitted their work to an agent or publisher can only be called aspiring. That if they were to refer to themselves as writers they would be crossing this invisible line that those not in the know aren’t privy to.

But I’d like to think that in such a creative field, with this great sense of camaraderie, even if there is competition, that these amazing individuals don’t put up these barriers and choose instead to see each other as the writers they are – no matter what stage of the process they’re in. But perhaps that’s just my naïveté and optimistic outlook.

For those who call themselves aspiring writers, just know that there is at least one person who believes you to be the writers you already are and not just simply aspiring to become.

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