What makes someone a "serious writer?" Are you "serious" only if you've had a book published? Do you qualify if you have magazine credits? If you attend writing conferences? Take classes? Belong to a critique group? Blog? Dream about it?
Or is it the way in which you refer to yourself and your dreams?
I've been writing on and off ever since I was a kid. I've taken breaks to go to college, get married, have babies (and more babies and more babies), raise kids, clean the house (not really), and generally live life.
Throughout the years I've taken some correspondence courses, including a novel writing course through Writer's Digest, a creative writing course at a local college, and a few online magazine writing courses. I've attended conferences, joined email lists, and participated in critique groups. I did all of these things long before I ever had anything published.
Before my picture book, Grasshopper Pie, was published, I never told anyone about my aspirations to be a writer. I barely admitted it to my husband. I thought people would look at me and say, "Is she kidding? She's a great poopy bottom cleaner and a fabulous snot wiper, but a writer? Yeah, right." And then I imgained they'd spend the rest of the day laughing at my insane idea of being a writer.
I was still a little shy about admitting my "secret desire" after my book came out. Looking back, I think my insecurity prohibited me from being an effective marketer for that book, but at the time, I'd blush whenever anyone asked me about it. After I sold a story to the Friend, I still felt the same way. I was sure the editor only bought it out of a sense of pity. "Here's this poor woman who thinks she can write and I don't have the heart to tell her she can't, so I'll buy this story from her to make her feel good about herself." Isn't that what editors do?
Now that I've sold several more stories to the Friend and other magazines, and even seen some of those stories in print, I can admit: "I'm a writer." In fact, I'm a "serious writer" because that's how I see myself. I'm no longer afraid to admit that I love to write and I dream of being a novelist. I think that being a "serious writer" has much more to do with the way I see myself than anything else. Many, many people are serious about their writing but have yet to find the right home for a manuscript.
I've learned that before anyone else can take me seriously, I have to take myself, and my dreams, seriously. Being a writer isn't some silly pipedream, it's my dream and I'm serious about it.
And my dream of being a novelist? Let's just say, I'll keep you posted.