Two months ago, I went to the local library to pick up a massive order of books.
26, to be exact, and I had to carry them out to my truck in three, heavy loads.
Anyway, I was checking-out at the front desk and the librarian asked why I had so many books. I said I was doing research for a novel. She, of course, popped the question:
"You're an aspiring writer?"
"No, I'm an actual writer."
In retrospect, I shouldn't have sounded so defensive, which the librarian definitely heard. She stopped talking and kept scanning through the stacks while I blabbered about how "aspiring writer" was a cultural misnomer and why I should be considered a real writer, despite being still unpublished.
Not my proudest moment.
I remember leaving the library with warm cheeks, dumping a third of the books onto my passenger seat, and having to return twice more for the rest - all the while avoiding eye contact.
To quote Yoda:
Awkward encounter aside, the term "aspiring writer" is illogical, belittling, and unhelpful to you as an asp - a writer, an actual writer.
1. It's Nonsensical
Either you write or you don't. I credit this adage to Travis McBee, but I have heard it and variations of it elsewhere too. There's no middle ground: no room for apathetic or angsty complacency.
So, where does "aspiring writer" put you?
In the latter category.
Now, you may be an aspiring author. That is reasonable. After all, one can hope to publish someday, especially during the thirteenth draft. But writing is a binary exercise.
To quote Yoda again...
2. It's Patronizing.
The librarian asked it nicely, but I'm willing to bet we all know the tone. Yes, that smug, smarmy, saccharine inflection of the mouth.
Let me translate.
"You must be an aspiring writer!"
Run that through the bullshit dictionary and thesaurus and you've got an insult:
"Ah, ha ha. Tee Hee. You'll put your thoughts on paper soon, dear, but I think you could use another trip to dreamland. Wouldn't that be fun? Enjoy your little inspiration snacks, okay?"
Most, I believe, mean well. Some might seriously support your work. Others might parrot this parlance with a platitude or two, perhaps not knowing what else to tell you.
This is how you answer:
"I love to write."
Nothing more is necessary.
If a compliment:
Swallow your rage and sooner faint than repeat my faux pas. Yes, it's belittling, and maybe even condescending, but as long as "aspiring writer" continues to plague society, you must smile and prove it wrong by writing consistently.
Notice: I didn't say daily.
3. It's Debilitating.
If you only aspire, you will never achieve, and I'm not going to apologize for rehashing this age-old cliche.
I'm not here to sell you a book or course about changing your mindset. (from scarcity to abundance, making money to providing value, etc.) Let the charla - coaches, I mean, teach you that.
By declaring yourself a writer, an "all rights, privileges, and honors pertaining thereto" writer, you will suffer the weight of responsibility, yet enjoy the freedom to create, fail, and later succeed.
All aspiring writers must die.
Be a real writer instead.