I've been tracking and participating in a number of online discussions of interest to writers.
Many of these chats pertain to questions such as "How do I get published?" and "Should I self-publish?"" and "What should I look out for in a contract negotiation?"
Fair enough inquiries, but I detect some of the posters and participants have a more fundamental problem than dealing with the do's and don'ts of publishing.
I believe they're seeking authentication that they truly are writers.
For example, a new author wonders whether he needs a literary agent to tout his tome. This seems like a 100% legitimate question. Some writers employ agents, and some agents sell some books, some of the time.
But this posting can also be that aspiring author's way of asking: "Do I need an agent to represent me before I can truly believe I am a writer and have faith in the quality of my prose?"
"Is an agent's endorsement necessary before I can feel I fit the part?"
The short answer to these questions is a resounding, NO! Agents do not a writer make.
Nor does publication, for that matter. The Chicken Soup series of books, which failed to
find home after home, (or would that be, coop after coop?) testifies to the uncanny ability of publishers and agents to NOT spot tomorrow's hit titles.
What makes a writer GENUINE, the real deal?
Lots of folks feel like imposters as they enter occupations. I just read a neat article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by a tenured professor who said he felt like a fake for five years before relaxing in front of his classes.
As I see it, you become a writer the moment you come to believe that's what you are, that's what you do. You do not need anyone's approval or endorsement, and seeking these pats on the back is a waste of time that keeps you from writing.
There is a huge industry of writers' "helpers" that argue to the contrary, feathering their nests in the process. They say you need assistance with overcoming your writer's block, with editing your text, with creating a "writer's platform," with selling your work to publishers.
But they are selling DEPENDENCY and APPROVAL.
You don't need them.
Unless, of course, you are a genuine imposter!