This post is a bit more self-reflective than what I normally put up, but I think it's important to ponder. Eighteen months ago, I started writing what would become my first published novel. I've been writing ever since I was a young boy, but this was my first serious attempt at a story that could also be good enough for others to enjoy. And now, a year and a half later, I've completed three novels and a short story, and I can't help but feel proud of myself. I've still got a long way to go in terms of numbers and improving the quality of my writing, but at least I'm on the road and making good time.
So all this got me to thinking: am I a true writer, in the classical/traditional sense? Well I certainly love books, and I'm always thinking about writing, and I try to write every day. I write not only for myself, but also for my potential audience, and I try to keep my pulse on writing trends, rather than be an elitist who writes in his own semantic vacuum. Writing is my favorite hobby and I think I'll do it until I die.
But am I a writer in the way that society often perceives writers? Probably not. When I check out author bios and profiles, I see some common threads: most own dogs or cats, most are middle-aged white people, many have had some previous career in editing/journalism/education/etc., most look relatively non-descript, most live in suburban or rural areas.
I've never been to a writer's convention or had much face-to-face contact with writers, but I think that if I did, I would probably feel like a fish out of water. Of course there are many writers out there who don't fit the writer stereotype but certainly personalities manifest themselves in certain appearances, hobbies and interests. You'll rarely find a fashion diva who also writes gripping thrillers, or football jocks on the NYT YA bestseller list (but it happens).
It really doesn't matter what you look like or what you do - what matters are the books you write, nothing more. Who cares if you're a hoarding shut-in or a globe-trotting adventurer; show me the books. Personally, I'm glad that I'm not a middle-aged former editor living in Minnesota with three cats, but if you are, that's totally fine. The archetypes of Poe, Capote, Salinger, etc. are merely social constructs. A writer is someone who writes and loves it. The end.