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Are you really a writer?   2 comments

I don’t consider myself a writer.

In the most technical sense of the word, I am. These are in fact, words I am typing, and supposedly people read them.

But a waiter at a restaurant writes out my lunch order, and I read it when I get the bill. A cop writes me a ticket for speeding, and I read that also, before cursing him in the name of all deities fictional and imaginary. Luckily for me, I take the bus. 🙂

My point is, just writing things down doesn’t make them writers, and doesn’t make me one either.

I’m just an EDI configuration analyst who writes a blog on the side.

But maybe I’m a bad example. I do this as a hobby; as a way to get my voice out more and to rant at my friends less. It is not my dream to one day be The Next Great American Author™.

So how about other examples?

I have a friend who writes every day. Her dream is, in fact, to one day become The Next Great American Author™, as famous as Stephen King or Mark Twain.

I’ve read her writing, and I like it a lot. It could use some peer review and revision, like everything else. But she has a lot of raw talent. She is reluctant to call herself a writer; at least not yet, and I agree.

I would call her a dreamer, who aspires to one day be a writer.

How about my dad?

He’s actually written 3 novels (that I know of) and is currently working on another. He’s tried to get at least one of them published, and would like to get all of them out there some day. But I’ve never read any of them. I also wouldn’t consider him a writer, because that isn’t he is known for.

I would consider him a radio talk show host who has also written some books.

How about some on who has an English degree, and writes every day, and also dreams, like my friend above, of being The Next Great American Author™?

Nope.

Having a degree only shows that you should be a competent writer, it doesn’t prove you are one. Just look at JK Rowling, Kurt Vonnegut, and the other famous writers out there without a BA in English. You need the actual skills to back it up, or it’s pointless bragging.

No, I would call this person a barista (or sales clerk, fry cook, etc.) with $50,000 worth of student debt, who dreams of being a writer.

So how would I discern a “true” writer?

Well, it isn’t through dreams, or degrees, or rough drafts nobody reads. A dream keeps you going, a degree teaches you skills, and a rough draft gets you started.  Those things are all good, and they can help you be a writer.

But they aren’t what earn you the right to call yourself one.

The thing that does that is proof,  plain and simple.

Because it doesn’t matter what you say, or how loud or often you say it. What matters is what you do.

A musician doesn’t go around introducing himself as a musician at parties, he goes out and plays music.

A smart person doesn’t tell her coworkers she is smart, she shows it by excelling at her job.

A chef cooks, a painter paints, an actress acts, and a dancer dances.

A writer doesn’t go constantly exclaiming he is a writer to everyone who asks (and probably many people who didn’t.)

A writer sits down and writes.

So if someone tells me they are a writer, my next question is going to be, “What have you written?”

If they stumble and bumble their way to some excuse about how they just aren’t ready yet, or some other weak not-really-an-answer, I won’t take them seriously.

Because you can call yourself whatever you want. I can call myself Grand Dictator Shaman Romney, Wizard King of the Etherium, Esq.

But if I can’t back it up with full caster levels and the ability to practice law, I’m just making stuff up to make myself feel important.

If you can’t show proof that you are a writer, you are doing the same thing.

However, that is just one EDI-configuration-analyst-who-writes-a-blog-on-the-side’s opinion, and I would love your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Shaman

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Posted 10/18/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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2 responses to “Are you really a writer?

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  1. I think anyone can be a writer, however there’s a difference to being an author. But if you give a thought to it… isn’t Anne Frank then an author? All she could only admit to is having written a diary, something most of us could admit to having done. I wrote a text called “What is Art?” on my blog that kind of discusses the same topic that might explain my views further. In case you would like to read it, here’s the link: http://theidleeuropean.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/what-is-art/
    (Sorry for advertising, but it felt the most convenient at this point. You can also comment here and I’ll be interested in reading your reply.)

    Like

    • I don’t really see a difference between an author and a writer. An author is just a specific kind of writer, like a blogger, copywriter, etc. I also wouldn’t call her an author, or a writer. She just wrote in a diary. What she wrote is a powerful piece of non-fiction, but it is specifically because it wasn’t a writer that makes it so.

      I’d also argue that art is subjective; on that we agree. My friends think the twilight series is absolute crap, but Stephanie Myer would count as a writer, purely because she can slap them in the face with a wad full of hundreds from all her royalties.

      But mostly, in this post, I’m referring to people who call themselves something, and who tend to lord that self proclaimed title over others.

      Don’t feel bad for linking to your blog, it’s a good read, and if I find a time I’ll try and comment on it further.

      Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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