Screenwriter Jason Arnopp tweeted this morning:
“Do you write and finish things, yet describe yourself as “aspiring” on your Twitter bio? Old blog of mine about that: http://t.co/NuBwFQgg”
He received a flurry of responses, to which he replied:
“Anyone else want to come out from the “aspiring” closet and confess to being a writer?”
Then he followed it up with this:
“If you write & finish writing, you’re a writer, that’s it. Never knowingly sell yourself short. That’s other people’s job.”
Curious, I decided to follow his link and read what he had to say. This is his blog post, from August 2008:
You Are Not An Aspiring Writer
At the Screenwriters’ Festival 2007, here’s how I introduced myself to people, when they asked what I did: “Well, I’m an aspiring screenwriter with a background in journalism. I’ve had an optioned script and hope one day to make the transition to being a full-time screenwriter, blah blah, quack, blah…” (admittedly, the “quack” may have thrown them).
At the Screenwriters’ Festival 2008, here’s how I introduced myself to people, when they asked what I did: “I’m a screenwriter.”
Much simpler. Much less painful. And I haven’t made this switch because I think I’ve made some kind of grand transformational progress in the intervening 12 months (although it’s been good, thanks for enquiring). I haven’t reached some magical upper echelon where people are suddenly allowed to describe themselves as “a screenwriter”. Here’s the thing, which is only my opinion, of course: if we describe ourselves as aspiring screenwriters, or apprentice screenwriters, or unproduced screenwriters, or screenwriters who only get the chance to write between 9pm and 11pm when we’re knackered, then (a) we sound like we’re denigrating ourselves, making excuses; and (b) many of the people we’re talking to will mentally file us away under “newbie” or, worse, “amateur”.
Perception is vital. No matter what level we’ve reached, we’re aspiring to the next. That’s a given, and I don’t believe we need to point it out any more.
If you write, you’re a writer. End of story. No excuses, no pointless qualification of the facts. We’re writers and we work incredibly hard, using our big old brains in so many different ways, for potentially little or no reward, soaking up different degrees of rejection like a sponge and moving onwards with an unstoppable shark-like grace. So many people are happy to diminish and downplay our power and achievements: let’s not aid their cause with our opening sentences to a potentially career-changing new face.
So next time someone asks what you do, say your job title with confidence and a soupcon of pride.
Source: Jason Arnopp
My Twitter profile originally read “I’m an aspiring author taking my first nervous steps towards sharing my work with the world”
When I began to build my online presence as an author last year, I was very nervous and worried about how my work would be received. I felt that no-one would take me seriously, because I didn’t have an agent and my book wasn’t available in High Street book stores. My book has been published, but not by traditional means and it’s only available via online bookstores, so I felt that I may not be seen as a ‘serious’ writer. Eighteen months on, I’ve received extraordinarily kind and generous support from people who have enjoyed reading my book, and there is growing interest in the sequels.
I realised this morning, as I read Jason’s blog, that I’m not an aspiring author. I’ve written three books, one of which has been published and read by many readers. I’m preparing the second for publication, the third will hopefully be ready by Spring 2012, and a fourth is bubbling away inside my head.
I am an author. There, I said it!
I’ve changed my Twitter profile to “Author of a new contemporary romance series. First novel New Beginnings now available – see website for details” and that self-affirming statement helps me feel so much more confident about my work.
Thank you, Jason Arnopp: I needed that.