Earlier this week, I went on a business trip to Denver. Denver is approximately a million miles away from Florida. (OK, it's actually about 2,000 miles.) All of those miles meant a lot of time in the plane and airport, which meant I got a lot of writing done. (It's amazing what you can do when Twitter, gmail, and other blogs are not within your reach. Although on one of my flights I did get Internet access, and it was aMAZing. #TweetsOnAPlane is my new favorite hashtag.)
On my last flight, a very nice lady was sitting next to me as I clacked away at my MacBook. She mostly kept to herself, reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and sipping her diet Sprite. But at one point she turned to me and said, "Are you a writer?"
I had two options. I could say, "No, but I want to be." Or I could own up, say "Yes!" with confidence, and understand that being a writer means a lot more than having a book on sale at Borders.
When you're a writer, you wake up in the morning wanting to write. You might carry notebooks around with you in case you get ideas, and if you forget your notebook you'll write on napkins, scrap pieces of paper -- whatever you can get your hands on. If you've ever posted a blog entry, kept a journal, or shared a story with a friend or family member, then you are a writer. You don't have to write a book to be a writer -- but if you are writing a book (or even a story that you're really excited about), you'll probably bring your laptop or notebook with you, even on a business trip, just so you can get a few minutes of revisions in.
When you're a writer, you read. You read novels that you love, novels that you hate, classics and contemporary pieces. You read books that were recommended to you and you recommend books to others. You read the back of a cereal box if that's all there is.
When you're a writer, it doesn't matter if you get published or not. Sure, that would be great (obviously) and you spend plenty of time daydreaming about what your cover will look like and doodling your author signature (we've all done it, come on people.) But ultimately, you write because you love it. If your first book doesn't catch anyone's eye, you'll write another, and another, because you can't help but write -- it's in your bones, it's in the air you breathe.
So, back on the plane, when my neighbor asked if I was a writer, I almost said no. I don't have a book published. You can't find me at Barnes and Noble. But I am a writer. So I smiled back at her and said, "Yes!" with gusto.
On her way off the plane, she asked if I was going to pursue publication, and I said yes. She wished me luck, and said she hoped she could read my book one day. I hope so, too, but if not, I'll still be a writer.