I’m a Writer – No Other Label Needed!

I started my professional career as a pharmacist: a graduate pharmacist first, MH900406754then a registered one, and then a clinical one.

Those labels defined not only who I was, but it described in a single word what I had achieved.

After graduation, I had to endure grueling oral and writtenMB900409125 tests to become registered. Then came an advanced degree and more arduous tests so that I could attach additional adjectives to my job description, and additional alphabets behind my name. It was the right of passage into ever-smaller clubs of achievement.

When I retired from pharmacy and decided to become a fiction writer, I thought I was done with labels. I looked forward to being “just a writer” and spending my days devoted to creating art with words. But reality crept back in and those pesky labels materialized again.

“What type of writer are you?” I was asked. “A novelist”, I answered. After all, I had finished a manuscript that people said was very good. That answer, however, gave the impression that I was published.

After attending a number of writing seminars and conferences, I realized that my answer gave the impression that I was an author (those pesky labels were showing up again!). I was told that I’m not an author until I’m published, that I’m only ASPIRING to be an author. That made sense, so I decided that I’d have to be happy with just the “writer” label on my business card until I finished, edited, “polished” and then published my manuscript.

One day someone said that I was only an ASPIRING writer because my manuscript was not ready for publication yet. So, in a few short months of my initial interaction with other writers, agents and publishers, I had been knocked down from novelist and author to someone who just ASPIRED to be a writer.  I was moving backwards fast!

That was when I drew a line in the sand and said enough with the labels.  I took a MH900422224long, hard look at the footprint I was making in my writing career and asked myself a sobering question: “What was I?”

Was I nothing more than an enthusiast, someone just fascinated with writing, little more than a spectator or a collector? Was I just a collector of the stories written in my spare time and then locked away in a drawer? That didn’t fit my ambition. I was definitely past the hobby stage and beginning to think of writing as a potential business.

These days I don’t feel complete unless I manage to string some words together every 24 hours.  My first manuscript has been professionally edited and has beenMH900241229 praised for both story content and writing skill. I’m even beginning to fill what I call the “novel pipeline”, a second novel almost complete and two more outlined.  I’m definitely not an ASPIRING writer.  I’m simply a writer, like so many others who work hard every day to improve their skills and search for that publishing opportunity. I gave up the ASPIRING part a long time ago.

I’m still not published, but I have a manuscript that I’m proud of that will be published soon. It’s a mystery/suspense novel called Lethal Medicine, but I’ll talk more about that when the publication date gets closer. In the meantime, I’m simply a writer, and I’m looking forward to changing that title to an author in the near future.

Thoughts?  Comments?  I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
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13 Responses to I’m a Writer – No Other Label Needed!

  1. Pingback: My brother Jim Murray with a compelling article on his search for – and discovery of – his identity…:) | Thomas Rydder

  2. Isn’t it great, finally discovering yourself…coming to terms with your identity…getting comfortable in your own skin?
    Great post Jim…and I agree with you…I am what I am, as Popeye used to say…:)
    Go get’m tiger…

    Thomas
    http://thomasrydder.wordpress.com/

  3. obsidianpoet says:

    I hate labels like that. People can be so snobby. If you have written something by golly you are an author. Publication should have no bearing. I only chose to say author poet and artist as my tag line because author gave me another a to go with artist. If someone had told me what they told you I would tell them to stuff it. You aspire to be something….those ppl usually only have big ideas an no product to show. If you have the product you wanted then you have done and no longer dream. I find that people that cling to the labels usually have not done anything themselves!

    I hope your book comes out soon and does well!

  4. I tell people who write, NEVER call yourself ‘aspiring’, you write, so you are a writer, right!? RIGHT! If you’ve written a BOOK, published or otherwise, that’s what authors DO, they write BOOKS ,,,so you’re an author, not just a writer… GO FOR IT Jim, :):):)

  5. PS..I’ve shared this out on Twitter and Facebook… yeehaw !! :):)

  6. jumeirajames says:

    Until you publish it’s all ‘maybe someday’. You’ve got to get it out there and let the world decide if its good or not.

    But labels are for people who buy clothes, not for people who create something from nothing.

    Great blog.

  7. Thanks, Guys! I appreciate the comments and the good thoughts. I’m forging ahead and getting ready to publish that debut novel real soon AND I’ll need everyone’s help to promote it.

  8. RachelB. says:

    The person who said you’re only an “aspiring writer” is dead wrong. When you sit down and write, you’re a writer. Period. This I heard from Dwight Swain.

  9. What’s a label anyway? Being a person with a physical disability, I used to be considered a client to personal support workers who help me, but now I’m considered a consumer. But really, I may consume their services, but I don’t consider myself to be someone who just sits there eating everything up and therefore consumer, to me, does not describe who I am.

    In terms of career, I find it interesting that I came across your post today as I was just yesterday toying with the idea of career as I am in my mid to late 20’s and searching for where to go in life. I’ve trained in college for a career I’ve found myself questioning lately. I’ve had multiple people tell me that they can see me writing, so maybe that is my career path since it feels good to have things written. So far, I’ve had some article “published” or included in newsletters of a local agency for families with someone who has a disability. I never thought to call myself an author or writer because I’ve done this. I am me, and I have something I can give to the world, and that gift is given through the written/typed word. I never even thought of it as that last sentence before now but the sentence flowed and seems more realistic than me saying “OK, I’m going to be a writer now, or no wait maybe I’m an author. NO! I’m a typist who happens to be writing things as he types… yeah, a typist.”

    Labels are an interesting thing, and they really do seem like they can be endless if you choose to spend your time on them.🙂 Great post!!

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