Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Write on Wednesday: Writing for Real

Today’s Write on Wednesday prompt is:

How about you? Do you consider yourself a writer? Do you think blogging is “real writing?” What does it take to be a “real writer”?

In her weekly prompt, Becca began by the dilemma she experienced when people asked her “what do you do?” And, while she writes a lot for her work, it’s not the creative writing or the type of writing that traditionally has given us “permission” to say, “I’m a writer.”

I can relate to this one. When asked what I do, I’m inclined to say “public relations” (in which there is a ton of writing, as any PR person knows), or “advertising and promotion” or just as often “work for a public tv station.”

Unless I’m really nailed down for specifics, I rarely say “I’m a writer and an editor.” (Or, for that matter – relating this to my other key interest, art, do I rarely say “I’m an artist.”)

Do I consider myself one? You bet. I figure I probably write fifty percent of my work hours in one form or another – articles, magazine material, press releases, radio and television copy, pledge pitches, carefully phrased letters, and much more.

So, why don’t I call myself one, straight out?

Probably for the same the reason I have trouble calling myself an artist – although, that’s a little trickier, going back to how one defines art (and craft and hobby… that’s another discussion!)

I’m paid as a writer. A working writer. Sounds cool.

But in my head, deep down, I still think of “being a real writer” as being “Jo” in “Little Women.” A writer has their work published in venues they don’t control. They write books – fiction or non – and magazine articles on tons of subjects; witty essays, helpful information. And they are paid for it by someone else, who has as much power to reject them as to accept them.

But wait! What about those who self-publish books? Are they any less of a writer? (Ah, says my critic – someone buys their work, so their control is limited. Yes, they can publish what they like, but if a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear?)

The labels are making me crazy! Why does it have to be associated with payment or recognition. “I’m a volunteer.” “I’m a homemaker.” “I’m a mom.” Generally no financial payment accompanies these critical jobs – and sometimes the recognition is less than deserved. But does it make the job less important? I think not.

Initially, I thought of the blog as a way to share my art and some experiences, lots of photos, recipes, basically, part of my life. I didn’t really think of it as a writing vehicle, but as a communication tool.

I don’t think that anymore. I really try to look at what I post – it may be a humdrum story with limited interest to fellow bloggers about something in my life. But the least I can do is try to write it well so that those who do me the honor of spending time at The Marmelade Gypsy are reading something written with care and thought.

And working on the Gypsy makes me a better writer, because I actually think about it. No auto pilot here. It may be self-published. But I still have to please an editor who can reject those words – myself.

And I’m finding lately, that this editor can be tough and tender, lenient and strict. She can bubble with energy or fade fast, multi-task or hone in with diligent attention. This editor is making me reach into myself.

I need her.

What about you? (And if you’re an artist, feel free to flip the terms – because heaven knows, not all of us are paid for what we do, and do well!)


Becca said...

I'm smiling, because so much of this rings true with me :)

And "Jo" was my heroine too!

paris parfait said...

Hey, you are a writer! Full stop, as the Brits say. And Little Women and Jo inspired me to become a writer - rather than the secretary or nurse or teacher the school guidance counselor told her girl she could be. xo

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