Musings,  Writer's moments

Am I a Writer?

My summer has literally disappeared and I’m damned if I know what happened to it. One minute it was April and we were opening up the lake cottage and the next, it’s almost September and the nights have already turned cool. My personal life has been an upheaval of joys and sorrows, while in the meantime, I’ve been working practically nonstop all summer long. Working is always a good thing, except that it interferes ferociously with my writing time. If I work for eight or ten hours, I’m loathe to sit down at the computer again after I stop for the day.

But yesterday, I worked on my romantic suspense and finished a whole new chapter. Now, I’m aching to continue writing—the widow’s tale is brewing and the time travel story sends me to my little recorder or my notebook as ideas keep cropping up. I love that feeling when the creative juices are flowing. It’s almost sensual. I can spend hours here, world-building and refining characters and bringing a story to life and then come away exhausted, but exhilarated. The current story sloshes around in my brain even when I’m not at the computer—while I’m driving, weeding, vacuuming, standing at the kitchen sink…and characters knock at the door of my mind begging to be let out. When that happens, it’s as if I’ve found my true calling, my life’s work. But then life and work  interfere again…

My critique partners are amazing and so prolific that I’m constantly in awe of their abilities to produce story after story. I get distracted by life and work, but they steam through almost anything and continue writing. I really would love to be like that when I grow up as a writer, but maybe it’s not my style to be so prolific. Maybe I’m not going to crank out books at a fantastic rate. Frequently, when I’m dispirited and wondering if I’m any kind of a writer at all, I have to remind myself that I’ve already had a book published and that people are asking me for more.

I’ve thought about letting the editing go for a while and just concentrating on writing, but I’m too much of a coward. The day job pays for the pleasures, like the lake cottage and boat gas, pedicures and trips to see my grandson. I want those things too, so does that mean that I’m not focused enough on the craft to be a truly successful writer?

When I’m writing, I’m happy, complete. When I’m not writing, I’m worrying about not writing, but I also love getting paid and putting my aching feet into a pedicure tub or cruising on the lake on a warm sunny afternoon. I’m thinking I may need to simply give myself the time in the mornings to write before I begin my paying gigs. Perhaps a more disciplined schedule would help.

Should I be suffering more? More willing to give up pleasures in order to write? Is it enough for me to write when I can? I don’t know, I’m asking…that’s the question for the Universe today. Am I truly a writer if I’m not obsessed with writing?




  • Skye

    I had a teacher once tell me “if you think you are a writer, you are a writer.” Even if you are not writing, you are thinking about writing in those spare moments and I think that makes one a writer. I have yet to begin to revise my novel; haven’t touched it since I finished it except to read it through once. Does that mean I’m not a writer? Nope. We all just have our own pace and our own style of working.

    You are a writer. I’ll even bet you are a GREAT writer. 🙂

  • Deb Huffer

    Hey Nancy – I received your book in the mail that I ordered from B&N and started reading that very night! I have to tell you that I read some each night until I finished it. Not only a great book but I looked forward to reading to see what was going to happen next and for me that was an accomplishment. As you know I’m not a reader……so make an avid reader out of me by briinging on more of your books!

  • Judy, Judy, Judy

    I can’t add much to what’s already been said. I just add my voice in saying – I’ve read Rule Number One, and you, my dear, are a writer, no matter how long it takes you to write book #2.

  • Kathi

    I know exactly what you mean as I am a beach bum in my heart yet every morning when the alarm goes off at 5:45 am in land locked Indiana I toddle off to work at a desk all day. Obviously the universe is not in touch with our hearts. We can only hope it is in touch with someone’s who is soaking up the sun or writing to their heart’s content just waiting for us to join them!!

  • Betty Fokker

    I’m glad you are writing again. Your life has been *eventful* lately, both joyous and terrifying. I think even the best write would be distracted at this point, so I am not surprised it takes you a bit to find the headspace.


    • Nan

      BF, thank you! It feels good to be writing again–I’m going to try very hard not to overwhelm myself with work again. I get scared when numbers aren’t I think they should be and then I accept too much and get into the bad place.

  • robena grant

    Yes. You are a writer, and a good one. You don’t have to give up anything. Everyone has their own style and maybe you’re a writer like SEP or Crusie or Gaffney and you produce a work of art every two years. There are fast writers and slow writers and you just need to relax and let the real you be uncovered. Carlos Ruiz Zafon took 9 years to write his second book after The Shadow of the Wind. He was not forgotten, and as soon as I learned it was out I was first in line. : )

    Perhaps carve out one hour each morning while you’re fresh and write then. Then put it aside and go on with your day job. It’s amazing what you can achieve in one hour.

    • Nan

      Roben, I agree absolutely–the morning writing time is probably going to be my best way to go and it won’t truly affect my work schedule. I CAN get a lot done in an hour…I’ve done it before. And yes, relaxing and letting the writer in me reveal who she is–that’s terrific advice. I can always count on you for the clear voice of reason.