Incidentally I believe that the end-events are not important in doing one’s creative stuff; you don’t need to be published to be a writer for example.
It was interesting (and a relief) to hear veeb say this here, because it’s what I believe too. Recently though, I had quite an interesting *argument* with an occasional Anonymous poster to these pages about when an artist (in the broadest sense of the word) can call themselves a writer.
You can be something that you’ve trained to be academically – e.g. I could go into a lab and perform some experiments tomorrow and I’d be a scientist. I’ve been trained and I know what I’m doing. To be something of a vocational nature you have to be judged to be that by your peers. Otherwise any fool could slap a bit of paint on a canvas and think of themselves as an artist, or any fool could scrawl out a few paragraphs and think of themselves as a writer, and immediately consider themselves on par with picasso or shakespeare. For academic things, the essence is in the ability to do it, for vocational things, the essence is in what you create and how that is recognized by the world at large.
To make out you are something when in reality you’re in the “training” phase (for want of a better analogy) really does smack of an overinflated ego sometimes, or worse still out and out pretentiousness. Something you might want to consider when making statements like “I am a writer and an artist”! It’s not belittling what you do or saying you shouldn’t write or paint or whatever, just be aware it doesn’t always come over in a good light!
This infuriated me – but, as usual, in the heat of the discussion I lost the ability to put the counter arguments that were going through my mind into words – and so I don’t think I put my case in the best way. I do feel that these feelings (illustrated above) do point to some underlying jealousy(?? – it’s the only word I can think of at the moment…) regarding art and the artistic. Especially when the argument is followed by…
What I do have though through my time in London and through various contacts I have is a lot of experience in meeting media types and people who call themselves “artists”. And without exception they are all egotistical, shallow and consider themselves far more gifted and important than they actually are. I have also met some genuine published authors and producers – people who’s work speaks for itself – and they have all been charming and modest. Not neccessarily famous though. As in most things in life there are those that talk it, and those that just get on and do it, and the latter group are usually by far the more genuine people.
If you still want to call yourself a writer/artist in those specific, clear terms (as in “I am a writer” and not “oh, I do a bit of writing”, “I’d like to be published someday” etc.), then fine, it’s your choice. But I’d strongly warn about being caught up in a circle of self-belief and denial – all these media types I know of relied on the continued “support” of similar people to propagate the myth that they were right and that people who questioned their work or beliefs were wrong, or phillistines, or simply “not gifted enough to interpret my work”. But what value does reassurance have when it merely comes from people who want you to offer them the same reassurances? Are they just telling you what you wish to hear because they wish to hear something similar back? Genuine modesty (as opposed to straight self-depreciation) is a hugely underrated virtue, and all I was trying to do was point out that you appear to be falling into the trap of being driven by a desire to be seen as a certain thing, rather than being willing to achieve the thing itself and then be judged on that (in this case, being a writer as opposed to writing something and then putting that work in the public domain). And by so clearly stating what you feel yourself to be and what you wish to be seen as, when you essentially don’t have much to show for it at this point, may mean a lot of people will think of you at worst as being very arrogant, pretentious and a showoff for doing so, and at best a joke.