SIWC has come and gone again for another year. Okay, it’s been gone for a few weeks, but I always come away from it feeling refreshed, inspired, and ready for the year ahead. And the past four years, I’ve plunged straight into NaNoWriMo. Those of you who know me probably know I have this thing about community (read: I love it) and that I love connecting with other writers. The Greater Vancouver group is both diverse and dynamic. We range from teenagers to septuagenarians, from beginners to veterans. Some of us are published in either traditional or indie markets, and some of us are not. Some are just participating for fun, and some enjoy hanging out and writing fanfic.
But one thing that has come up a few times, especially among the newer folks, is the A word: aspiring.
“I’m an aspiring writer.”
At SIWC this year, author Susanna Kearsley was the Saturday night keynote speaker. And she had a vital piece of advice for us all:
“Remove that word from your vocabulary. You are a writer, whether you are published or not.”
Those words really struck a chord with me. I’m not much published yet myself, and I think that regardless of the path you choose to take, a sentiment exists among some that not being published equals not being a “real” writer. Even now, when I’m at a point in my life where I have a finished novel and enough confidence to submit to agents again, there’s this insecure part of me that thinks I’m not.
Then I shake my head and smack myself. That’s not how I should be thinking. Still, you know how little fears can feel, no matter how silly they seem. They don’t go away that easily.
(Side note: David B. Coe at Magical Words has had a great series of posts on Fear and Writing. Yes, we all deal with fears, published or not. The posts themselves are useful, and the lengthy discussions in the comments section are very worth checking out.)
We do this to ourselves. Words can become labels that we latch onto, creating little boxes in which to hide. Speaking quite frankly as someone who knows a thing or two about negative self-talk, I’m of the opinion that “aspiring” falls into that same pile of bad words. I’ve always hated the term, but didn’t know what else to use. I’m really glad someone has put a voice to it.
I have heard some published authors use the A word when speaking to the unpublished, and I won’t lie. It bothers me. Okay, it bothers me a lot. Hearing that advice at SIWC that we should ditch the word, though? That made me feel free.
So. How do you feel about “aspiring”? Does that quote give you the warm fuzzies, too? I know it certainly helped me.