This is something I knew intuitively even before being published, that it’s okay to call yourself a writer before there’s a book with your name on it.
Not aspiring writer. Not author wannabe. Just writer.
I don’t know at what moment it happens. It might not even be a moment but a phase. It may not even have much to do with the number of hours you put in each day at your word processor, or the daily word count you manage to chisel out. The best I can describe it is this way: It’s the point when you switch from thinking about trying to write a book to doggedly typing in page after page, day after day, month after month, perhaps year after year. It’s the morning you get up, and instead of thinking Should I work on the novel a bit today? you catch yourself thinking Hey, that scene I’ve been working on where Sam and Sandra go into the woods, what if instead of the romantic picnic they were planning on having, they stumble across a dead body beneath a pine tree? And they have to spend the day giving witness statements at the police station while the food in the forgotten picnic basket spoils in the sun? And their budding relationship takes a strange turn when Sam realizes Sandra knows the victim but neglected to say so to the police…
Yes, that morning. Maybe it happens after years of false starts, maybe sooner. Looking back, I can’t even tell you exactly when it happened during the (ahem) five years it took to write my first novel, Regarding Ducks and Universes. But it did, and I started using the word. Writer.
Then I noticed a weird thing. Doing so in public had the tendency to dead-end conversations. When people asked me what I do, this often happened:
So, what do you do?
I’m a writer.
Oh, have you written anything I’ve read?
Well no, I haven’t published yet.
Oh. Uh—how about that cold snap we’ve been having?
So I switched to a different answer, a more specific one:
What do you do?
I’m writing a novel.
Oh, what’s it about?
It’s called “Regarding Ducks and Universes”. You see, there’s a Universe A and a Universe B, and all sorts of stuff happens to this one guy called Felix.…
Of course, nowadays the conversations can and do still go like that (What do you do? I’m a writer. Have you written anything I’ve read? Probably not.), so I still try to be specific.
What do you do?
I’m writing my fourth book.
Oh, what kind of books do you write?
Well, there’s a one about parallel universes, and I’ve just about wrapped up work on the third book in my time travel series…
Like that. And don’t even get me started on the difference between writer and author. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post.
Neve Maslakovic is the author of the Incident series (time-travel whodunits), as well as a stand-alone novel, Regarding Ducks and Universes. Before turning her hand to writing fiction, Neve earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University’s STAR (Space, Telecommunications, and Radioscience) Lab. Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Neve currently lives with her husband and son near Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she admits to enjoying the winters. Booklist called her debut novel, Regarding Ducks and Universes, “Inventive… a delight.” Book 3 of the Incident series releases winter 2014/15.