One of the first questions a writer gets asked after answering the “What do you do?” question is, “Have you been published?”
Have you been published? And why should that matter?
It probably doesn’t, but it’s a natural enough question in a world where being famous, or at least well-known, is the be-all and end-all.
I don’t want to be famous; I don’t even want to be well-known, but yes I want to publish my stories. I know I’m not alone in this. So why do I want to be published if fame isn’t my goal?* Do I want to be published because I want to or because I’ve been told that as a writer, I should want to? What’s wrong with just writing anyway?
But I want people to read my stories!
Do you need to be published for that to happen? Do you really need the stamp of approval from an increasingly competitive and challenging industry in order for people to read your words? Of course not. Obviously not!
But I won’t be a REAL WRITER unless I’m published!
Bull. You are a REAL WRITER when you set down REAL WORDS.
The next time someone throws out the question, “Are you published?” answer however you want but remember that not being published doesn’t make you any less of a writer and it’s not something you have to defend. You are a writer; isn’t that accomplishment enough? (The answer you’re looking for here is, HELL YES!)
* Note: I’m not addressing the obvious goal of getting published – to get rich – because the odds of getting published and making a living at being a published author, let alone getting rich from it, are exceedingly slim.