What Makes a Writer?

A recent question at an online writer’s forum was when to call one’s self a writer. The responses varied, with opinions ranging from someone who is published and makes a living as a writer to those who simply love to write. My opinion was somewhere in the middle.

If someone asks what I do, I say I am a paralegal because this is how I make my living. However, in discussions on what we do outside of our careers, I tell people I love to write short stories, and that I’m working on a novel. But, I don’t call myself a writer because that is not what I do for a living. However, I might say that my hobby is writing.

When I was younger, I had dreams of becoming a lyricist. Then, I wanted to become famous writing short stories and novels. I saw the world through rose colored glasses. My mother thought it was wonderful that I wrote, but she also told me that one does not usually make a lot of money writing.

“You need to go to college, get your education and find a career. You need to learn how to support yourself.”

As any teenager would, I argued with my mother and stood my ground. As any good mother would, she encouraged me to continue writing and pushed me toward college.

Of course, mom was right.

I’m glad I chose my education and a career. On a daily basis, I create legal documents- compile facts and write about them so others can understand the case. Some time of each workday is dedicated to writing, some days it’s all I do. I love the law, and I love writing. What better way to earn a living!

When I come home from work, I write short stories and/or work on my novel, or do some other type of writing. Sometimes it’s 15 minutes, other times it’s an hour or two. It just depends. Once in awhile, I submit. Two stories I have submitted in the last year have been accepted. Two magazines have rejected another story. I think it’s a good story- perhaps I should continue submitting and see what happens.

As for the rest of life: it’s around 80 degrees outside and a wonderful spring day. I am taking a week off from work in a few weeks for window remodeling on my home. I will also be jumping into spring cleaning, as well as looking through some of Grandma’s writings and working toward compiling them into a family history.

Tomorrow, I will be going to the Redwood Writers Club joint meeting with Marin County. This should be loads of fun!

4 thoughts on “What Makes a Writer?

  1. Hi Susan! All this time on the forum and I didn’t realize you had a blog. Now that I’ve found you, I’ll visit often. Did I ever share the funny story from my late mother-in-law who was a legal assistant (different from paralegal, no?)? She used to type from dictation and often confused the lawyer’s deep Southern accent. One particular case involved a crewmember, struck by the ship’s winch. She misunderstood and typed “wench.” Hilarious. 🙂Peace,Cindy.


  2. Hi Cindy: Funny story! A legal assistant is the same as a legal secretary. Paralegals can do anything a lawyer does except represent a client in court, give legal advice and set legal fees. Otherwise, the sky is the limmit. If I was a legal secretary, they would’ve fired me! 🙂 Thank you finidng my blog. Also, I love your participation at the writer’s forum!


  3. Susan,My favorite definition of “a writer” is anyone who writes. You don’t have to be published or even ever share your work. You don’t have to be a legal adult, or use a keyboard, or even spell correctly. You just have to write.Peg


  4. Hi Peg: Thank you for responding. While I choose a certain definition for myself, I also know that the writing world is filled with diversity of opinion. That is what makes the world go round.


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