Some would say a person who has published books is a writer and some would say someone who writes is a writer. I go with the latter. Let me elaborate on my thoughts on the true meaning of being a writer. I do not necessarily believe that whoever has published books is a writer because if that would have been all then Franz Kafka would not want to destroy his masterpieces and the infamous The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath would not be rejected at the beginning.
The process of publishing is huge and it involves a few factors and people for the completion, so it does not essentially mean that if one does not have a published book they are not a good writer. I mean, if The Bell Jar was never published does that mean Plath is not one of the most prominent feminist writers? Or, just because the first novel by Agatha Christie was never published means that she is not one of the best-selling writers of all time?
A writer is the one who writes – there several genres (thriller, romance, comedy, sci-fi, psychological, fiction, non-fiction, drama, and more) and millions of writers. Some write fiction some write non-fiction, some write about children and some write about existentialism. Some books are classic and will remain classic, such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth would always remain a classic because it can match the contemporary and the epic or Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, a woman would not relate to it; these are books that would gain more diverse readers and perspectives as it grows old.
Some writers are known for the contemporary times and it lives on for the impact of their raw words like war and anti-war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Some writers live for their out-of-the-box and rebellious nature of going beyond convention, such as Walt Whitman who wrote about America and homosexuality, and Oscar Wilde who wrote only one semi-autobiographical novel which reveals his sexuality. I mean, Wilde wrote The Ballad of the Reading Gaol, which is more important because he composed it while he was in prison, and the reason for his imprisonment is his sexuality.
So, a writer can be of various kinds and forms. It is the reader who validates a writer and the writing. A true writer is the one who focuses on clarity and who can provide justice to their thoughts and views because no matter how much one overthinks, jotting down the exact thoughts is the hardest part of writing. It might lack the true emotion, it might sound relatable, and perhaps not. It might not contain strong vocabulary or raw emotion that will get an instant expression of sadness or joy from the reader – so a writer is the one who takes care of these factors, not someone who wake up in the morning with a mug of coffee and writes every day or has published books. There are several published books with bad ratings and reviews and several writers who never published a second book or thought of writing one.
What matters is how authentic and original a person is with their perspective and writing, how relatable is their words, how much their words are capable of motivating, or how much they can compel the readers to read the writer’s background, to think, re-read, discuss and live the character – for me, these are the capabilities of a true writer.