November 05, 2005

Will The Real Writer Please Stand Up?

“Everyone’s a writer,” somebody grumbles. What makes one a real writer? If it’s merely the ability to string a coherent sentence together, then I suppose yes, everyone’s a writer. That’s kind of like saying that Jessica Simpson’s an actor, isn’t it?

I’m going to bring my question closer to home: Am I a writer? Well, I’ve written stuff. Some have been published, others not. Some are pretty good, others suck. Some I'm proud of, others I'd rather jump headfirst off the Twin Towers than have people read.

But what does one have to do to earn the right to be called a writer?

Is a writer someone who’s published something? That would mean that the thousands of mentor-wannabes out there who’ve scribbled 32-page get-rich-quick books would be writers too. That’s a horrifying thought. If not, are we talking about those who’ve published a novel? What about those who’ve written crap novels?

Is a writer one who writes well then? If so, who determines how well? A panel of judges who may or may not have published crap themselves? Is one a writer only when one has been recognized by an authority? What about one whose writing is very popular with the masses (most of whom are probably ignoramuses) but is slammed by book reviewers?

Are you a writer if you write brochures and direct mailers for a living? Or are you a writer only if you have the capability of churning dozens of pages on your word processor at a go? In which case, advertising copywriters who usually don’t write more than 3½ words a page would be ruled out completely.

Okay. This is my stereotype of a writer:

1. is intellectual looking (wire-framed glasses, tousled hair, wrinkly clothes, the works)
2. has eyes that pierce right through your soul
3. is absolutely witty and fascinating in everything he says
4. is keenly observant
5. uses obscure words most people don’t and pronounces them with great aplomb
6. reads books that are NOT on the MPH bestsellers’ list (which currently features nothing but Dan Brown – why in hell, I haven’t the foggiest)
7. is philosophical
8. questions everything
9. can be a bit of a renegade
10. has opinions about everything
11. is passionate
12. is a lover of foreign films (would rather nuke him/herself than be the first in line to catch some formulaic Hollywood garbage like Mr & Mrs Smith)

Truth be told, I hardly conform to the list above. I don’t wear glasses, am not particularly fond of wrinkly clothes, have read Dan Brown (in my defense, I found it to be total drudgery), have a perpetual problem with spelling 'manuver' ... 'manuovre' ... 'manure' ... whatever, and once mispronounced the word ‘ingenue’. If it’s any consolation, I have not / will not ever watch Mr & Mrs Smith.

I still don’t have the answer to my question. I’m now wondering why I brought this up in the first place. So, I am going to chicken out and unceremoniously plonk an untimely close to this post. It’s an anti-climax, I know, but on the plus side, I spare my brain cells the agony of having to choke up some profound conclusion and I get to keep my ‘writer’ label intact.

No comments: