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Adding “Writer” To The Stack

Last month I attended a very informal “Meet the Writer” event at my local library. Speaking there was Susanna Kearsley, an author of a number of great fiction books and bestsellers at that. I thought it would be amazing to meet an honest-to-goodness writer and see what she might offer about the writing process, getting published, and all things novel-related. Sure, she’s a fiction writer and I’m writing non-fiction, but I’ll keep that little tidbit to myself while there. Hopefully no one will notice I don’t fit, right?

The event was great, I fit in just fine (what was I worried about anyway?), and Susanna was very forthcoming and enthusiastic about helping the writers assembled in the room. The most profound thing she said came right in the beginning, before any technical writing tips or publishing nightmare stories:

If you write on paper or online, or anywhere for that matter, you’re a writer. I don’t want to hear you ever call yourself an ‘aspiring’ writer because you are already a writer. Being published does not make you a writer, writing does. What we do is an important service to society.”

This hit me with two “ah-ha” anvils to the head. First, yes, I’m a writer. Of course I’m a writer. I’ve been doing that a long, long time. As you’re reading the fruits of this labor, you obviously know this. So, I’m going to take that title. The second epiphany was related to my long-labored book writing odyssey that had now stretched into two years. Maybe I wasn’t writing this thing as a maybe-it’ll-be-real project but more as a damn-right-it-deserves-to-be-real project.

That book, of course, is unknown to most everyone. There’s not one soul I have divulged details about this to. That said, the thing is a few thousand words shy of 40,000 and I’m a tightrope cable’s width from calling this thing done-zo.  Along the way, I’ve started two other books (really helpful, right). I’ve been getting on this first book for longer than an elephant’s gestation period in slow motion. No, really, this thing is going so slow that I’ll need to start describing it in terms of ‘eras’.

You might remember I mentioned the term ‘Stack’ in the title. I initially heard of this great concept from a very smart, but unlikable, fellow named Scott Adams. He says:

Most people can – with practice – develop a variety of skills that work well together. I call this idea the Talent Stack.

Scott Adams Blog

His idea fits this changing world where intangibles are ruling and where adding really any kind of complementary talent can be part of the stack you build. In my mind, his can even be a reasonable facsimile for looking creative when you’ve been called upon (even if, say you aren’t). I really believe the coming challenges we all face in North America to work and career can be mitigated by a strong talent stack.