Tara Meissner, Author of Stress Fracture: A Memoir Of Psychosis (Guest Post and Giveaway)

Tara2014We welcome WOW! blog tour author Tara Meissner today in celebration of her memoir: Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. She is guest posting on what makes someone a writer–but believe me, she is definitely a writer, whether she feels it or not! What a brave woman to write and share with the world the story of her own psychosis and bipolar disorder. The cover states, “[This book] offers a raw view: a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld.

Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor.”

In her memoir, not only does Tara write about when she was suffering from the psychosis and bipolar disorder, but she also writes about the recovery process and the people that stuck by her. This memoir is perfect for anyone who has ever had a mental illness or who loves someone who does. It is inspirational!  AND YOU CAN WIN A COPY, after you read this beautifully written essay by Tara, “What Makes Someone a Writer.”

Stress Fracture A Memoir of Psychosis book coverWhat Makes Someone a Writer

by Tara Meissner (Author of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis)

Many writers are hesitant to refer to themselves as such, which makes me think about language and how we use it. In Latin “sum” (pronounced to rhyme with zoom) means “I am” and it is a complete sentence. I exist. I am. Sum.

I don’t enjoy telling people that I am a writer. And it always comes up in the most awkward way, in a conversation phrased as, “What do you do?”

I always say, “I write,” rather than, “I am a writer.”

However, people generally answer the occupation question of what we do with who we are. For example, someone might say, “I am a teacher,” rather than saying, “I teach.” It is hard for me to say I am a writer, because the word implies an arrogance, an audacity. Who am I to consider myself a writer worthy of transcribing my ideas?

Writing is just something that I do, sometimes in exchange for money, sometimes as a way to procrastinate, sometimes to create value in the form of accessible prose or poetry.

Writer is too broad a word, almost obscure. We can picture a journalist, a novelist, a columnist, or an author. People can somehow feel and understand those nouns, but a writer, well that is harder to define and picture. Yet, it encompasses the variations of writing that I have done throughout my career.

To be a runner, one just has to run, on the treadmill, on the beach, around the neighborhood, at a track. It doesn’t matter, just one foot in front of the other repeatedly. Writing is the same — word after word until you run out of steam or time, and then do it again and again.

A runner doesn’t have to place or even qualify for the Boston Marathon to be considered a runner. They just have to habitually run. The New York Times Bestseller list is comparable to an elite marathon, a measure for the master class.
Writing is a habit and to really be a writer rather than someone who occasionally writes, you have to put in the time and practice your craft — log the miles, create piles of pages.

Language is interesting when our verbs become nouns. The elementary school lesson of adding “er” to a verb to make it a noun comes to mind. A person who bakes is a baker. (However a person who cooks is not a cooker but rather a cook. Alas, I digress.)

The idea that someone is a writer as some mystical higher being or defining summary of purpose seems silly. One can simply add “er” to the verb write. Writing then isn’t so much about who you are as it is about what you do.

William Faulker said it better, “Don’t ‘be a writer.’ Be writing.”

What do you think? What makes someone a writer? Answer below AND enter to win Tara’s memoir: Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis!

About the Author: Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a bachelor of arts degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book.

Blog: http://wordscrazywords.blogspot.com/

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  • Tara, thank you so much for this post. I feel the same way when I say: I’m a writer. And many times I get this answer of: “And I can like find your books somewhere.” Yes, as a matter of fact, you can. Don’t sound so surprised. Also loved your quote at the end!

  • Thank for sharing Tara,
    I stuggle with the “I write” – “I’m a writer” also. I think I need a BIG blockbuster to be a “writer” but do I really? Being a writer to me is just puting you soul on a page and that’s it. People will love it, people will hate it, people may never even read it. But, I wrote therefore I am a writer.

  • Thank you for reading. Keep writing! Today someone stopped me at the library and said, you are that writer? It was fitting considering today’s post! Cheers

  • Tara, thanks for writing (wink wink) on our Lit Ladies blog. When I was teaching I told a fellow teacher, “I want to be a writer.” He replied,” You know what you have to do if you want to be a writer?” I didn’t understand the question. He said, “You write. That’s all.” It is true that anyone can jot down thoughts, but mastering writing is something that only comes with practice. Keep it up, writer :)

  • Tara,

    Thanks for the reality check. Doesn’t matter what we do, just do it!


  • When one says she is a writer the question almost always follows, “What do you write?” I write a number of things including essays, children’s stories, and poetry. They then want to know where they can read or buy my works. That’s a hard question to answer. I still consider myself a writer since I am working on new pieces. I have been paid for writing, but not recently. How long does one go between paying assignments before one is not considered a writer anymore?

    An almost identical conversation takes place when I say I am an artist. I create several types of art and have sold, but I don’t have anything I can really point to since much of my current art is in the hands of private collectors and I am working on new pieces.

    When people ask these questions they are really asking what you do for a living. So to some people, if one runs on a treadmill or cooks dinner for a spouse they may not answer that question by saying, “I am a runner,” or, “I am a cook,’ even though in the strictest sense of the word, they are.

  • Hi Virginia, I also struggled with saying I’m a writer and it satisfying people’s need to wonder where the income comes from. I think it is a rude social exchange that people do as a way of getting to know one another, regardless if the income comes from being a teacher, doctor, Walmart worker, one’s spouse or as a writer. As if one noun answering the occupation question would really answer the question what someone does. Our jobs should not define us. I guess I made that point that one can be a writer, just like a runner, without it being an occupation. A writer is just someone who writers. A person can add the adjective professional to writer if she sell sells her work.
    And if one does feel like answering the occupation question, the nouns journalist, novelist, poet, memoirist, ect. provide a better response. In related news, people ask me how to do it, how to know where to sell my work, how to know how to market, or they sometimes say, I could never write a book! I reply with a question, how do you know how to be a teacher or an actuary or a surgeon. I am serious about my work as a writer; I have spent a long time developing my career. So there is no easy answer.
    In this post, I answered the question what makes someone a writer with the simple response that it is someone who writes. Period. People now recognize me as a writer, and say, “You are that writer.” But is just started with doing and over time people recognized it and I accepted it. When I was 19, I told my dad I wanted to be a writer, he said, “what are you going to do for insurance?” Yes the income component is always there, but that is a post for another day.

So, what do you think?