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MFA in Writing at Vermont College

Saturday, July 28, 2012

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Am I a writer?

Merriam Webster simply defines a writer as, “one who writes.” 

Am I a writer!

I sit at my desk every evening tapping away at the keyboard.  That must make me a full-fledged writer!

But wait…

Dictionary.com defines a writer as, “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession.”

Now what does that mean?  Especially as an occupation or profession?  I certainly don’t make money from my writing.  Forget supporting myself as a writer, I can’t even afford an ice cream cone from my writing income. 

But that word especially is a bit of a disclaimer isn’t it.  Does a person need to get paid for his or her work to be a writer?  How much money exactly do they need to make from writing for it to be considered a profession? Does a person need to be published to be a writer? 

Much like a tree falling in the forest… if no one reads my stories are they really stories? 

Am I a writer? 

Sure, I tap away every evening on my computer creating characters and plot lines but no one ever reads them.  Okay, okay, sure my wife reads them.  My writing group reads them.  And hopefully they make their way out of a slush pile and an agent or publisher reads them before sending back my rejection slip.  But after a while they simply go into a file on my computer and I start over with something new. 

Am I a writer?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading, or do things worth writing.” 

Wow!  Can you imagine being in a critique group with this guy.  Talk about pressure.  But he begs the question, if you don’t write something worth reading are you truly a writer?

Am I a writer?

Am I a writer?

Am I a writer?

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Well maybe I am a writer after all!


  1. I suppose if you apply the tree falling analogy you could argue that as long as you've communicated effectively with a single person through the written word then you qualify -- but then again, the tree still falls whether anyone is present to witness it because the incident will shape the world in some small or occasionally significant way, so if your writing shapes you, it shapes your world.

  2. Yes. You are a writer. Period. Now stop whining and get back to work! (Writing I mean). :)