Monday, June 30, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #292 -- What is a writer?

What is a writer? What isn't?
(from a post on The Greenwich Set group)

Someone posed on a writers' group posed the question: What constitutes a writer? What are the qualifications?

Several people had commented, and some of the responses really smacked to me of the elitism that is so often prevalent among the writing set, so, of course, I simply HAD to comment.

I had this to say:

"The word 'writer' is a generic word, like dog. Within that word, one can be a boxer, a poodle or a terrier. Within the word "writer" one can be a journalist, a novelist, blogger, a nonfiction writer, etc.

"And even a scholar (there was a reference in one of the responses that a scholar who wrote about his subject matter wasn't a writer per se, but a scholar who used the tool of writing to get his points across) must learn to be a writer in order to communicate effective with the written (or typed) word.

"To be a writer is simply to be a communicator who uses the tool of the written or typed word. To apply any qualifiers to it that start taking that simple concept into snobbery or division is only revealing something about the person saying it, not about the act of being a writer in the first place.

"To say that someone who writes cereal box copy, fortune cookies, greeting cards, short stories, how-to books, etc. is not a writer is simply snobbery on the part of the one who holds that view. All of them work equally hard on the craft, learning different sets of tools for different outcomes and publishing options, and all must learn to be clear and concise and communicative.

In short, all must write.

"For me, I always use a clarification word before the word 'writer.' For example, by day I used to be a marcom and copy writer. On the side, I'm was also (and still am) a comic book and graphic novel writer, and a short story writer. But all of them are writers.

"What I do take issue with, however, are the people who hire ghostwriters for their books (most commonly done for so-called 'autobiographies' and business books and books by religious leaders, it seems) and them still have the audacity to refer to themselves as the writer. They are compilers, at best, instigating catalysts most typically."