When to call yourself a “writer” can be tough to actually declare, at least for beginning writers. For me, it’s a layered decision to come out to the world.
First, you get the response from whoever you are telling–it may be negative, possibly thoughtful with questions, or “Are you published?”
The Negative is a real downer. It’s those people who say “You’ll never make any money,” “Becoming a novelist is an unrealistic dream,” or “Why don’t you get a real job?” To the Negative, it seems your successes are a fluke and when you fail the naysayers are solidified in their beliefs.
The thoughtful-question types are great. They are interested in your ideas, ask to see a copy of your book/writing. You can tell them your wonderful plot and enrich them with the deep, complex characters. Some may even be honestly interested and become a good source of encouragement or even potential beta readers. Some may even share the passion and join your writers group or share their writing journey and their laments.
A mixture of negative and thoughtful people will eventually ask whether you’ve been published or not. You answer whichever you are. Proudly puffing out your chest, confessing your dream has been fulfilled at last!But then bowing your head because last month you received a royalty check of “$11.29.” Or maybe you are successful and that is something!
Or you are of the unpublished type. Starry-eyed but not published. The excuses range from “I tried but don’t have a clue what I’m doing and failed miserably,” or “I’m just not ready yet, but am secretly terrified of failure and be a laughingstock so I’ll never actually try,” or you have the “No one wants to read my dribble! It would be just too embarrassing.” All have failed in becoming published.
This post might be a little jaded, I’m just drawing from what I’ve seen and some I’ve felt myself. Getting published no matter what avenue you take is a scary thing, not for the faint of heart, but it can be done. You can become successful, but do the ample amounts of research. Put the time in. Find your path. It may take two years or forty. You may be extremely lucky or among the average. No matter what you do, you are compelled though.
Finally, when you do reach the successes, share your story and inspire others. Writing is a community effort. Good luck in your writing quest!