Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Post - Elizabeth Flora Ross

Those of you who belong to our blog are familiar with today's guest poster. Elizabeth blogs at The Writer Revived and is currently working on a non-fiction book about the Mommy Wars.

A calling

OK, gentle readers, prepare yourselves. I am going to say something controversial. You may not like it. It may even make you mad. But it needs to be said.

You cannot learn to be a writer.

What?! How can I say such a thing? Aren’t there skills that can be learned? Can’t you work hard at a craft and become good at it? Maybe even great?

The answer is yes. You can learn to write. You can study mechanics, technique, style. You can hone those skills and continue to work on them. And you should. I believe we never stop learning, and if you care about your craft you must work to perfect it.

But none of the above makes you a writer.

Being a writer is something that is within you. It is innate. It is part of you. It cannot be learned, or developed or forced. You either are a writer or you aren't. Period. Sorry if that upsets you. But it is an absolute truth. And I didn't make the rules.

Writers don't write because they want to. It is far more than a desire. They don't write for fame. It is not about recognition. They don't write for money. In case you haven’t already heard, they don’t normally make any. They don't even write for a sense of achievement. They write because it is their calling.

Writers are writers because they have to be. They have no choice. It is not what they do; it is who they are. Writing is in their blood. They can't help but write, and they would do it even if there were no chance their work would ever be published or read by anyone.

If you are a writer, you understand this. You know exactly what I am saying. But there are a lot of people out there trying to be writers. And they don't get it. Some actually think it is a quick way to make big bucks. Or become well known. Others try their hand at it because they believe it makes them look cool.

They may write well. They may even enjoy success. But they are nothing more than wannabes. Writing is a lifelong endeavor. You don’t just decide to do it one day. It is possible to recognize your calling later in life, but if you are truly a writer it has always been there, beneath the surface.

I assume you are part of this group because you are a writer. The real deal. You are compelled to write, and you have joined The Red Dress Club to connect with others like you. To learn from them, be motivated by them, and share with them your amazing talent.

So really, there is no controversy. You were all nodding your heads the entire time, shouting a collective, “Yeah!” at your computer screen. Right? Great!

When did you recognize your calling, and what are you doing to answer it? I’d love to know…