I wandered into a newsagency on Christmas Eve. I have wandered into a few recently in fact. I have been checking every one I pass in Newcastle recently in the hope of finding literary magazines to sample. Not much luck. Sampling from a store before subscribing would be easier than ordering a single copy via the net to sample. But it’s looking like I might have to. Anyway, I walked into a newsagency in town, in the arty end, feeling they might at least have one. I was right, and picked up The Literary Review. I also asked the agent if he carried Writer’s Digest. He did, which is a nice change from the chain agencies, however he had run out. He then asked the question that was inevitable, the question I have not yet been asked but expect to hear often: “Are you a writer?”
I cringed a little, and said something like “Well, yes, want to be. Finally making an effort to get there I guess.”
I was instantly annoyed at myself. I know people like me should say, with full confidence “Yes, I am, I write xxxx”. But my annoyance at myself faded quickly. I do not struggle to call myself a writer simply because I have never been published. That would be unfair to myself if I wrote avidly. I struggle to call myself a writer because I so rarely allow myself the luxury of writing time, I so rarely write anything. I have to be honest with myself, because I believe honesty is the best nudge forward for me.
Luckily Mr Newsagent seemed to get it. He asked what I planned to write and I told him teen fiction. He joked that he hoped it wasn’t another vampire novel, which I assured him it wasn’t, he then sheepishly admitted he quite liked the last Twilight movie, and I sheepishly admitted I had at least seen the first one, but HAD given away the books after one reading. He closed with the advice that his friend had been moderately successful with self publishing, advice/assurance I expect to hear from many well meaning people in the future.
I had to take my leave there, my boyfriend was waiting a little impatiently outside. But I enjoyed the banter and quite liked Mr Newsagent. If I can’t find Writer’s Digest closer to home I may have to return to get it 🙂
And I think in future, I will be a little more kind to myself if asked the “Are you a writer?” question. The new response will be: “Yes, I life-blog mostly, but teen fiction was my passion in my youth and I am hoping to return to it”. That is as honest as it gets, and far less self-deprecating.