Editorial Anonymous (whose blog I love) wrote a post last night about her annoyance with the term "pre-published writer". Oops! Guilty as charged. I can see her point. In my own case, I use the term because "writer-pursuing-publication-of-her-work-on-an-active-basis" just doesn't have quite the same ring. And "unpublished writer" makes me feel all Eeyorish inside.
My quibble is in comparing the term pre-published to pre-med or pre-law. Something like 80% of my freshman class started out "pre-med" (which ISN'T a major, by the way). Heck, I even started out pre-med (then I realized I would wither inside at the responsiblity of having another human's life in my hands). You can ace all the pre-reqs, secure all the recommendations, blow the top off the MCATs. All of this does not slap "Doctor" in front of your name. By calling yourself "pre-med", all you are really doing is saying, "Hey, world, I intend to become a physician." Which is all I really was trying to do by calling myself "pre-published."
Of course, I'm not the one who has to sift through piles and piles of awful manuscripts. That would be a little bit like the hiring committee at the Mayo Clinic looking through piles of applications from people who took nothing but art classes and feel that their appreciation for the human form qualifies them to skip medical school and start their practice. And MAYBE today will be the day that they discover the one application from the guy who was top of his class at Johns Hopkins.
I love a blog spot that Verla Kay shared recently. It hit the nail right on the head for me in terms of setting goals. I have no control over when (or whether) I am published. But I do have control over how many times I have a manuscript critiqued, how many conferences I attend, how much time I spend actually writing.
That being said, I'm going to stop saying "pre-published" immediately if it annoys editors.
On a side note, my big pet peeve is the term "aspiring writer" (which I've also been guilty of in the past). Nope, you're either writing or not writing. "Do or do not...there is no try." --Yoda.