I've made my living writing since the age of 21. It's just something that I do. I've often tried to define what it is that makes a writer, but no really clear picture emerges...just snippets and generalities. A different way of looking at a situation. Objectivity. The ability to render thoughts and ideas down to their marrow and pour them before an audience. Those words capture part of it, but in the end, they just make the definition that much more elusive.
I sometimes think that the person interviewing me for my first writing job got it right. At the time I was fresh out of high school and working as a very junior investment accounting clerk and hating it. The interviewer asked a few quesitons and we explored some creative possibilities for the publication he was editing and then he said, "Well that does it. You're a writer."
I disagreed with him, "No...I'm an investment accountant. I'm not really a writer...I haven't written anything before."
"But you are a writer," he said, "And before you leave here I'll prove it to you."
We talked a bit further about story ideas for the publication and then he said, "Tell you what I'll do. I'll give you the job."
He then told me how much it paid. It was substantially less than I was getting paid as an investment accountant and, believe me, I was having a hard time getting by on that salary. I protested and said I needed more. He said, "Right now, that's all I'm authorized to offer, but if things work out I'm sure I'll get you a raise up to your current salary in three months."
We talked about a few more ideas and finally I said, "I'll take it."
He just smiled and said, "I told you that you were a writer. Only a writer would take less money just for the chance to write."
Maybe that's all there is. The passion, the idea, the chance to tell the story and to hell with everything else. Who knows? All I know is it's now forty years later, I haven't starved yet and I've enjoyed every minute of it.