Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Word Count Wednesday:"I am a writer"

I worked in the field of education for over 34 years. After a stint as a preschool teacher, I taught in an elementary school for nineteen years. After I had completed my doctoral work at the University of Cincinnati, I served as a professor of teacher education at Cincinnati Christian University. I worked at the college for fourteen years and one semester. I was a teacher first and then a teacher of teachers.

Now I am a writer. It struck me this past week when I was talking with a new neighbor. He said, “So do you work?” Without reservation I simply said, “I am a writer.” I told him I write some freelance and have a contract for my first novel. He and his wife were interested. They asked me questions about my book, Breathing on Her Own, and promised to buy a copy when it comes out next year. I told them about my newest project and about the story coming out in Chicken Soup for the Soul 20thAnniversary Edition: Readers Choice this June.

What is remarkable about this transaction? Probably nothing. Maybe everything. You see, I know a lot of people who dream of writing or talk about writing. Like me, they have probably written a lot in the past. I wrote articles for teaching journals. I wrote newsletter entries for the school newspaper. I wrote stories for my students and teen novellas for my own children. I wrote poems on napkins and clever captions for my photo album. I did a lot of writing. I dreamed of being a writer. I talked about writing. But if anyone asked me about my work, I would say, without reservation, “I am a teacher.”

So what made the difference? It couldn’t be the publishing thing. I had been published in “Language Arts” as well as “The Ohio Reading Teacher.” It obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the number of stories written. I had written at least five children’s books (which I may even try to publish sometime in the future), two teen romance novellas (which I will never attempt to publish because they are so bad), numerous short stories and poems for friends and family. And I wrote more lesson plans than I could ever count.

What made the difference is this. I made a decision to be a writer. I write. Now I call myself a writer. There is something about living up to your own expectations. When I taught children, I would emphasize their strengths. They would live up to those expectations.

For example, a few years ago I ran into a young man I had taught in a kindergarten class many years ago. He recognized me and introduced himself. He was in the Air Force and studying to be a doctor. He turned to my daughters and told them how I had praised him in kindergarten for being a good citizen when he stopped in the doorway of our classroom as soon as the Star-Spangled Banner started playing over the intercom. Now he was in the Air Force.

Writing makes me a writer. Identifying myself as one makes me happy.

Now I am working on my second novel. Even with taking time to travel these past two weeks and working with my husband to install a new floor in our South Carolina vacation home, I have managed to write. Perhaps not as much as when I am at home, but that is part of the joy of my new profession. My time is my own. You see, I am a writer.

Now down to the nitty-gritty. My word count for my newest venture? 69,040 words. My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of May. And by the way, you may want to check out Grace On Parade, Karen Wingate’s website. I served as her guest blogger. A story about my grandmother will be featured on Karen’s blog on May 10, 2013. 


  1. Wow, I just wrote on this topic on my writing blog (http://kristibothur.weebly.com/1/post/2013/05/on-calling-myself-a-writer.html). I appreciate your thoughts about what makes you a writer and will be following your blog in the future. :)

    1. Kristi, Glad to have you on board! I will check out your blog. It sounds as if we are kindred spirits! RW


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