Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler with Linda Strader
“You are what you believe yourself to be.”~ Paulo Coelho
I am pleased to feature memoirist Linda Strader in this guest post about writing. Linda is the author of Summers of Fire: A Memoir of Adventure, Love and Courage due to be published on May 1, 2018 by Bedazzled Ink Press.
In addition to being an author, Linda is a landscape architect, an avid gardener, a watercolor artist and one of the first women firefighters for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in the 70s Her story has great relevance given the current devastating fires in California.
When to Call Yourself a Writer
What new writer hasn’t struggled with when to say they are a writer? Do you have to wait until you are published? What if the only thing you’ve ever published is a technical report? Is that not being a writer? If you don’t have a degree in writing, does that mean you can’t refer to yourself as a writer? How about if you get paid?
This question wasn’t even on my radar most of my life—until I lost my job when the economy collapsed. In between job searches, I thought to see if I could make a few bucks writing articles online. It’s embarrassing to admit how little I was paid, but I had no problem telling people I wrote to make money. It was true, even though I made less than a penny per word. Not for one moment did it occur to me to say, “I’m a writer”—possibly because I figured I wasn’t making a living at it.
Then I started writing a book.
I finished the book, and started querying for a literary agent. Did that make me a writer?
During the querying process, I began to work on my “platform”—getting my name out in the world as someone who could write halfway decently. If and when I actually succeeded in publishing my book, hopefully people would say, “Oh yeah, I remember her, she wrote on blah, blah, blah.” I created a blog, and offered to write posts for other author’s blogs. I still didn’t think much about being called a writer; I just assumed that I was.
One day an acquaintance posted a link on social media to my book’s blog saying, “Linda isn’t a real writer, she doesn’t have a degree or anything, but she wrote a book!”
Wait. What? I took serious offense to this. Of course I was a writer, I wrote a book!
I brought this up in my writers group the next week, which generated much support on my behalf—this person just didn’t understand that even many published authors didn’t hold degrees in writing.
A while later, someone in a Facebook writers groups posted: “You can’t call yourself a writer until you publish.”
That comment generated a pretty heated discussion. What does that mean? If you write short stories, novels, essays, articles, poetry, whatever, that if you aren’t formally published somewhere, you aren’t a writer?
I think this is nonsense, and I know I’m not alone.
A writer is someone who writes. It doesn’t matter what some people deem worthy of the title (degrees, certifications and the like.) It doesn’t matter if you’ve published a book. What makes you a writer is the joy you find in stringing words together to make the perfect sentence that expresses how you feel, think, or see the world. It’s the joy in sharing what you wrote. It’s even the satisfaction of writing reports that exhibit good writing skills, sharing what you know, what you’ve learned.
Are you struggling to call yourself a writer? Stop! Say it out loud: “I am a writer.” And believe it. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
About The Book:
Summers of Fire, A Memoir of Adventure, Love and Courage, told with honest emotion and snappy dialog, goes beyond battling fires and discrimination—it is a vibrant story of unwavering perseverance.
About the Author:
Originally from Syracuse, New York, I moved to Prescott, Arizona in 1972. After graduating from high school, I found jobs in Prescott were scarce to none. Through a friend’s connection, I began a Forest Service career as a fire timekeeper for the Catalina Hot Shots. Fascinated by their line of work, I made the decision in 1976 to become a firefighter.
Over the next seven years, I worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Arizona and the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska and Colorado. My beloved career ended abruptly in 1982.
Forced into a major life change, I made a decision to attend college. In 1990 I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. I returned to the U of A for a Masters Degree in planning, graduating in 1994. In 2001 I became a Registered Landscape Architect. In 2004 I became a Certified Arborist.
Since 2009 I’ve produced over a thousand articles about desert gardening, plants and design. I also write about my beloved Santa Rita Mountains, a short distance from my home.
Author Contact Information:
Arizona Gardener, a gardening and landscaping blog
Linda’s Watercolor Gallery
Facebook: Linda Strader
Thank you, Linda for addressing a topic we lovers of the written word often grapple with. I remember the moment I accepted that I could call myself a writer. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. What a revelation and relief that I could call myself a writer because I wrote!
How about you? Do you struggle to call yourself a writer? What do you think qualifies you to earn the title of writer?
We’d love to hear from you. Please join in the conversation below~
Announcement: Congratulations to Nancy Julien Kopp whose name was selected in a random drawing to receive a copy of my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.
I’m honored to be a guest on Linda M Kurth’s blog with “My Divorce Story: Finding Grace Within the Church”. Linda is advocating for healing of divorced people within the church by gathering stories for her blog of Christians who chose divorce because of abuse or infidelity, and the response of their churches to that decision.
I will be taking a blog break over the holidays and will return on Monday, 1/1/18 with “Reflections on 2017, Intentions for 2018”
“Christmas Blessings, 2017
December 2017 Newsletter, Updates, Memoir Musings, Max Moments
“A Season of Hope”
If you are interested in receiving this monthly newsletter in your inbox, please sign up in the right side bar. I’d love to have you along
In case you missed it, I’d love your feedback on this annual survey (and thanks to all who already completed it):
MEMOIR WRITER’S JOURNEY ANNUAL SURVEY, 2017
It’s that time of year when we start looking back at what worked and what needs work. I’d love your feedback on ways I can improve my website in 2018. Your feedback will be greatly appreciated and will be used to plan for 2018. I will report on the results on January 5,2018.
Here’s the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YYG3LDM