Losing Ink

It’s been a while since I published something of my own on this blog. I sent a tweet today because I had an experience which lent itself well to a small thought attached to a picture. Here’s the picture: 2013-07-14 17.42.08And here’s the thought: when I run out of ink, I feel like I’m doing well as a writer. It’s a silly thought, but it really is the best way of measuring progress I know. I don’t make money writing, not yet at least. I don’t work as a writer. I don’t publish much. Looking at all these clues, it seems silly that I introduce myself to others as a writer. But when I run out of ink in my pen it justifies everything. Surely someone who writes enough to lose ink, especially without compensation, can only be described as a writer. I know writers (and other artists) have generally high levels of self-doubt and low levels of meaningful support. I’m not unique in this regard (except I have incredibly high levels of support from friends and family for which I am extremely grateful). This simple image means I’m doing it though, and in the end that is exactly what it means to be a writer. I am someone who writes. And that’s enough.

Other writers and observers out there: how do you measure your success? what do you think qualifies someone as a writer?


10 responses to “Losing Ink

  1. Yes- insightful. I love it; the empty pen. I do that pretty often but have never thought of the pen in the context you have presented.
    I don’t write for pay but I have always written letters, notes to myself, personal journal etc. I like writing my thoughts and experiences. Sometimes I read them later; sometimes they are forgotten. But the writing itself is clarifying to my mind, and every now and then, I do read something at a later date and am glad I have that thought recorded.

  2. ps, I like the paragraph you wrote as literature as well as the thought. It’s a keeper!

    • Thanks! It’s getting close to finished. Then a few drafts, and I’ll be sending it around for your perusal. Thanks for the comments on the empty pen too. I’m glad you write stuff down too. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll read it.

      • Haha, not likely. My stuff does not hold together like yours does. None of it is story- all disjointed thoughts.
        But keep on; I do enjoy your writing!

  3. I get annoyed at people who go “Oh, I’m a writer” and I’m like “Cool. How long you been writing?” “About six months. I’m going to get my novel published!”
    I started calling myself a writer when I realised that it was just something I have to do. I can’t go too long without some idea coming to me, without needing to write something, anything! It did help that when I did Creative Writing at Uni, most of the tutors would start thier first class of the semester by looking at us and going “You are all writers.”
    I’d say if you have been writing for a while, if you feel it’s something you have to do and know it’s something that isn’t easy (unlike some people I’ve met who really think it’s a quick way to get money), then go ahead and call yourself a writer. And yeah, I think the losing ink thing is a good indication, too.

    • That’s a great definition. I also get really annoyed at people who think it’s just an easy, silly hobby. People always say to me, “I could write a book.” I don’t disagree with them. They could write a book, but that doesn’t make one a writer. Writing makes a writer.
      I like the notion of something you just have to do. I didn’t always feel that way, but now if I go a few days without writing I get really sluggish and depressed. Thanks for the comment.

      • Yeah, and I’ve found writing for me to be a great way to work things through in my own head. It’s also been pretty cathatic in the past, too. I met a guy in Uni who had written one novel, over the span of a year, and thought without editing or redrafting he could get it published. He asked me to read it, I struggled past the first page (think of a really cliche stereotypical fantasy novel littered with errors, commas and all the mistakes we make when we start out) and he completely dismissed any suggestions I made. There’s a book I found before called How Not To Write A Novel, and it’s great for pointing out stupid things everyone does and how to avoid them. I suggested it to him, because I found it useful, and he said “Why would I want a book on how not to write?”

        But yeah, I do agree that everyone could write, but in the same way everyone can sing. I can sing! I’m just terrible at it.

      • The singing is a perfect analogy. Anyone can be a writer, or a singer, but not everyone can be good. You can practice and get better, but especially if you’re not willing to admit you’re going to suck at first there’s no way you’re ever going to be good.

        I’m waaayyyy better than I was when I started 2 years ago, but I still know my first drafts are crap. When famous, prize winning authors don’t publish their first drafts it’s pretty ridiculous to assume you could publish your first effort ever. Part of really being a writer is understanding the process doesn’t end with writing.

        That books sounds really interesting. I’m going to check if they have it at a library around here.

      • Without a doubt, practice makes perfect. And I think if you write more, then obviously you will improve faster. Even things I wrote a year or two years ago I look at and go “Hmm. This isn’t as good as it could be.” I don’t think I’d ever read something of my own after publication, I’d notice loads of things!

        I did suggest to that same guy maybe putting something up on Fictionpress, even if it’s short stories, because if you find the right people you can get some great feedback which helped me improve massively. He turned around and said someone would plagarise him. I had to resist pointing out that there were a thousand other stories on there exactly like his one. Why would someone need to plagarise it?

      • I haven’t tried Fictionpress. Feedback is key though. That’s really funny he was worried about that. Must have had a pretty high opinion of his work.

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