This week, local writer, Shannon Meyerkort, joins me in the attic.
Shannon is a writer and blogger based in Perth, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She has been published in various magazines, both print and online, has had short stories and book chapters published, and writes and edits for Fundraising Mums, Free Perth and WeekendNotes. You can find her at https://shannonmeyerkort.com/.
I thoroughly enjoy reading Shannon’s down-to-earth tales about motherhood on her personal website, Relentless, and her post, The Brutal Truth About the Third Child, has been downloaded over 3,000,000 times.
I think many writers will relate to Shannon’s essay and that feeling of being an imposter and not a real writer, because real writers pen novels and not words on a screen.
But I think you’ll all agree that Shannon is, undoubtedly, a real writer …
What it means to be a writer
What it means, when I say that I am a writer, is that I write.
Words on a page, or more accurately, on a screen.
What it does not mean, is that I am an author. It does not mean that you will recognise my name from those embossed onto books on your shelf. Although I may want to (and aspire to, and dream of), being a writer does not necessarily mean I write books.
I am a digital content creator. My bread and butter are reviews and articles and lists and web articles and blogs. I struggle with calling myself a writer, although that is what I do. Hundreds of thousands of words, sprinkled throughout the virtual world. I am prolific and successful in what I do, but when you ask me ‘what sort of writer are you? A novelist?’, I shrink a little, ashamed that I am not a ‘real’ writer, although you can find me at fundraisingmums.com.au and at weekendnotes.com and at perthmumsgroup.com and even at scarymommy.com.
But every day when I cringe calling myself a writer (like I don’t deserve the title), I remind myself of something I was told six years ago—that I needed to think of my writing career as a jigsaw puzzle: with many different parts that all fit together, some would pay well and others wouldn’t, some would be creatively fulfilling, others would be ‘work’. Some would be published in print, others online. Some would meet with acclaim, others would just meet deadlines.
Yet they would all build together, piece by piece to make me a writer, which is what I am.
We cannot all be Jane Austen, or JD Salinger or JK Rowling. Someone has to write the movie reviews and put together the TV Guide. Someone needs to write the instruction manuals and explain how to program the VCR. Someone needs to compose the junk mail and write political speeches. Someone needs to write the little bitty news articles, that are deemed so unimportant they don’t deserve a by-line. Someone wrote those words. A writer. Someone who created a concise, informative, sometimes beautifully crafted paragraph of words from nothing more than their brain and fingers working through a keyboard.
There is no other person on the planet who can make so much from so little. Even Rembrandt needed paints.
And so we come to the other hallmark as my life as a blogger digital content creator. In just under 400 words I am finished. I have said all I need to say, yet fall a full 200+ words short of the suggested minimum. I write bite-sized snacks of information, easy to digest and probably easy to forget. Does that make me less of a writer? The majority of you are surely breathing a sigh of relief that you can already see the white space at the end of the page.
So perhaps good things come in small (chatty, self-published) packages. Perhaps this is just a piece of my writing jigsaw puzzle, a phase I am working through as I spent the majority of my time with three small children in the early years of school.
What it means to be a writer, to me? It means just keep on writing, make each piece better than the last, be helpful—even if you just reach one person every day. A writing life is a puzzle, and sometimes you won’t see the full picture until you get to the very end.
The essays are still coming in and I can’t wait to share them—I have a beautiful story coming up next week, from someone who’s not a writer, but for whom writing is special. Stay tuned!
I’m booked until mid-November, so there’s plenty of time to start an essay and send it in. I love reading them all, including those from people who don’t call themselves writers but for whom words are meaningful.
The topic is what writing means to you but I’m not strict about it. Nor am I strict about the word length, although 600-1000 words seems to suit best. I also offer a small gift as a thank you for your time.
Let me know if you’re interested via the ‘Contact‘ page above.
Dear Shannon, you are without question a real writer because I just finished reading your terrific post here. You certainly use words to great effect, to entertain and engage and to enlighten. Keep going , keep writing! 🙂
Hear, hear! And I bet we’ll read her novel one day, too! 😉
Beautifully written, Shannon. (Or is that beautifully authored? 😉 ) I love that blog (or is it digital content?). We are all people who play with words, so I propose we make up a new word to replace writer/author that we can all feel good about. Hmmm…..?????
Thanks, Jenn. Yes, it is beautifully authored! It’s hard to call ourselves ‘authors’ as it’s come to imply we have books on shelves in our names, but, really, we are authors of everything we write. I actually like the word ‘writer’, though—it implies ‘thinker’ as well! 🙂
Of course you are a writer Shannon. Keep writing and sharing your words, and when your children are older and you can see the wood through the trees you will probably write what sits inside you and present the world with an anthology of your short stories or a complete novel if that is what your heart desires. Never stop writing.
What a great idea! Shannon will have so much material to draw together and make into a collection, and how nice to have recorded it all at the time, unlike many of us who are relying on our memories. x
Sorry, I only just got around to reading this post and I’m so thankful I did. Shannon’s words ring so true for me and I’ve often had to remind myself over and over again, that writing is more than composing a novel. Words are everywhere and everywhere there are writers. Us digital content creators, who feel unworthy and unrecognised most of the time, need to hold our heads higher for we are not in training, we are writers of the third kind! 🙂
I so love your comment, Tabetha! There’s definitely more than one type of writer. I love the phrase ‘writers of the third kind’—a bit like ‘close encounters …’—it could take off as a new group name! xx
I am in total awe of Shannon’s skills as a writer. Imagine having a single blog post with that many readers! Of course you are a writer of great talent and your digital content creator is admired and sought after by more people than I can imagine. Thanks for another great essay, Louise.
I agree, Maureen! It’s a great blog post, too—have a look if you haven’t already! In all of her writing, Shannon captures the heart of a story in a few concise paragraphs, and she often makes me laugh and think. Only good writers can do all of that.
Shannon, during my many years as a journalist I never considered myself a ‘real’ writer. For me the children’s stories I wrote in my ‘spare’ time in between work and family was the ‘real’ writing. It wasn’t until I retired from journalism that I recognised every word I wrote during that long career contributed to making me the writer I am today. Keep writing and don’t hesitate to call yourself a writer – you most certainly area.
What beautiful words, Teena. There are all sorts of writers and all have a much needed role. Thank you for visiting.
I really enjoyed reading how your writing encompasses so much more than the traditional notion of what a writer actually writes! Perhaps, in a similar vein, all the years I wrote programmes for teaching, comments on students’ work, reports, conference papers and so much more adds up to a life spent writing.
Perhaps that novel you have within is taking shape to add to your repertoire!
Your post is an affirmation of thoughts I’ve often had. Thank you!
I’m sorry I’m late to reply, Susan, but your comment was caught by my spam filter—I have no idea how, especially given you’ve even written a post for this site!
I agree with you entirely—all of our learning contributes to what comes out on the page when we write. I tell myself that even my Twitter and Facebook posts help! 😉