Monday, December 13, 2010

What Makes a Writer?

by Roxanne Tritt Sutton

I’ve always had a hard time labeling myself as a writer. Considered writing one of my strong suits, yes. Done well on most written items in school, yes. Enjoyed expressing myself in similes, metaphors, and my preferred poetic pattern, alliteration, yes. Yet, somehow, stamping writer across my chest is hard for me.

It could be that I’ve always felt intimidated by the same people who made me feel like I could do anything. My mom is an amazing writer who has helped me on all things in the written world (and beyond). She was always there to praise, critique, and, of course, offer lots of suggestions on everything I wrote. In my mind, she’s the “true” writer. The one who can phrase something just right, tweak a few words to make a statement more powerful, and use words to paint an image that Da Vinci would have a hard time replicating. Who was I to call myself a writer?

Recently, I started a marketing/public relations internship for a shipping company. On my resume I listed “article writing” as one of my accomplishments, being that I recently published an article about George Mason University in a local paper. This still did not make me a writer. I was merely someone who had the skill to write articles. Little did I know, the first person I talked to at the career fair was looking for just that skill.

So, I’m almost two months into this internship now and things are going well. I’ve written and created an eNewsletter and am working on writing other things. As I was talking to my boss on the way out of the office yesterday, the second-in-command stopped me. “Wait. You’re the writer, right?”

As I fumbled and bumbled and wrung my hands, I took a deep breath. I looked right into her eyes, steadied myself, and said, “Yes.” I looked over my shoulder because surely the Writer Police would be on their way to arrest this imposter for calling herself a writer. But nothing happened. The second-in-command simply said, “Okay, good. I’ll send some things to you for copyediting.” I told her I’d be happy to do it and made my way out of the office.

It was such a simple exchange, and yet I find myself awake at the crack of dawn on my first day off in months writing. Not writing because it’s the end of the semester, but because something deep inside me is stirring and compelling me to put whispers into thoughts and thoughts into words. I’m writing because I am a writer.

So what makes a writer? A writer is anyone who feels the compulsion to put thoughts and emotions into words. A writer is someone who is attached to the finished product and is afraid (sometimes) to send it into the real world. A writer writes for his or herself and doesn’t worry about what others may think. Like my mom always said, “You can be anything you want to be.” And if you want to be writer, and if you write, then you are a writer.


  1. BRAVO! BRAVO! I would add that you KNOW you are a writer when the check clears the bank!

  2. Lovely, honest post, Roxanne. Thank you for your transparency. You're not the only one looking over your shoulder for the Writer Police! LOL I can so relate, as I'm sure most writers can.