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  1. I see it increasing, but it’s also encouraged. I’ve been to more than one conference – specifically writing conferences – where people are told that you have to be the first person to say something in order for others to believe it. So even if you haven’t published anything, you should say, “I am a writer.” If you don’t believe you are a writer, no one else will. But what defines a writer? Someone who keeps a journal? Someone who have published in five print publications? Some would argue that it’s a partial lie to say you’re a writer if you’re actually just an aspiring writer.

    • Julie Schwietert Collazo


      Thanks for your comment.

      I think what you’re talking about–and I’ve heard that advice, too (and have probably given it as well!)– is different than what I mean here. Saying you’re a writer is true even if you’re not published– as long as you’re writing and (from a professional standpoint, at least) if you’re trying to make a living from your work. I’d say the same is true for an actor, musician, dancer, or visual artist. Our products aren’t always generating us income because, to a large extent, the acceptance of our products and the income they generate is dependent upon someone vetting our work and deeming it worthy for inclusion in some larger product: a magazine, a play, a concert, etc. But even if we’re not drawing a paycheck at the moment, that doesn’t change the acts of creation we’re engaged in. We’re still artists.

      But to say, for example, that you’ve been published by National Geographic if you’ve actually been published by Nat Geo Traveler’s Intelligent Traveler blog is a different order of truth, or lack thereof. To say you’ve danced for Alvin Ailey when you’ve taken a class at the Ailey studio– those are two different things entirely.

  2. I saw an example of this earlier this week, and it’s been bugging me since! On her site, a writer (who I only know of, do not know personally) claimed she’d written for an extremely prestigious national print magazine that takes very little freelance work. I knew she hadn’t, and when I hovered the link, I saw that it was for an article for one of the magazine’s websites instead, not even the proper domain. I really wondered 1) if she somehow believed the way she’d written the publication name was acceptable or 2) if people are stupid and won’t check. Truly! It made me feel like she was trying to hoodwink editors and fellow writers — which, as a good writer with great clips, she doesn’t even need to do!

    Now that said, I’ve had this dilemma a few times when it comes to two old NYT clips I have. Both were pieces I wrote for my university newspaper that were syndicated by The Times back when it ran student work that had already been picked up by college-specific wire service UWire. Neither has my byline attached; both pieces were editorials. But I know I wrote them, as does my former boss and colleagues, and both pieces did run in the NYT in the now-defunct college edition. Getting both clips at just 21 was obviously validating, and I do think it’s worth pointing out that I began my career with a bang. But I *never* phrase it as, “I have written for NYT.” I instead write, “My work has been published/syndicated in/by the NYT” or I leave it off completely and focus on other excellent publications for which I’ve since written. I have friends who have written for NYT blogs and also go back and forth about how to list the publication or clip. I get why — it’s the goddamn Times — but I understand how tricky these things can be. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with But you know, that’s me 😉

    • Brittany-

      Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comment.

      I once had a professor who talked about elegant solutions vs. inelegant solutions… and it seems that writers with integrity struggle to find the elegant solution for this issue. I think you’ve solved it as well as it can be solved. In a limited amount of space and in a clean, uncluttered way, you’ve articulated exactly were you’ve been published and in what format.

      On our own websites/blogs/bios, I don’t really think any of this *should* be a problem. There could be a section, for example, that says: “Published in print: XYZ publication; ABC publication; etc.” And another section: “Published online:”; “Syndicated by:” The only time I could anticipate transparency being a challenge is in the short writer bios that get published in print, which many editors shorten for length. As you said, I also think this becomes less of an important issue as a writer’s career evolves… but I’m preaching to the choir here. 😉

  3. I’m all for truth – as soon as you start to lie you are saying to yourself that you’re not good enough, and acting as though you wished you were someone else. I think that only when we are happy enough to be who we are, and stand up for whatever it is we have achieved, that we will get to where we want.


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