A.V. Phibes (avphibes) wrote,
A.V. Phibes

Self-identifying as a writer: not just for douches anymore?

I've always had trouble with the "what do you do?" question. I went through my phase of just answering "office manager," but now I usually stick with the vague "designer,"  which, of course, is true enough because that's actually what I more or less make money at.  Only recently have I been internally questioning: can I self-identify as a writer?  

The New Yorker in me says "Don't say it unless you can put your money where your mouth is," the hater in me says "Self-identifying as a writer when you don't do it for a living is for pretentious douches."  And yet... and yet...

Here is what's been rolling around in the ol' brain pan:  The "publishing industry," or, that which, for all of my life, has been the gatekeeper of what is "real" writing and what is just fucking around (if it's published it counts, if it isn't it doesn't) Is undergoing a tremendous sea change right now.  "books" and "newspapers" and "magazines" and "being published" as we have known them in the past, may be going the way of the corded telephone and the fax-copier.  

What I'm saying is, with all the game-changers of the past decade, blogging is kinda the new writing.  At least, that is to say, it's the most contemporary medium and it doesn't seem to be going away.  Sure, 95% of it is crap, but the 5% that isn't is getting read by people as much as a newspaper or magazine.  Also, as digital distribution replaces those cumbersome paper books and renders printing and shipping costs irrelevant, it's going to change the types and amounts of writing that publishers publish. It's also changing how important a "publisher" even needs to be. From the "gatekeeper" standpoint, the times they are a changin'.

But all this is just random thought.  What I'm trying to get at is:  Bitches, I'm a writer.  I know how to write.  I may possibly know how to write better than I know how to do anything else.  I have never been published, I have never TRIED to get published, for all I know, I may never BE published, but I've been writing for ten years and people have been reading it.  Sometimes a lot of people have been reading it.  Possibly more people than have read those novels with their covers torn off in the sale bin.  Also, since the publishing industry is often trying to turn a buck by pandering to dullards, is publication really such a badge of quality? Have you read "Who Moved my Cheese?"  I mean, have you? If so, how is your head feeling after you felt compelled to beat it against a brick wall? Mine is still a little tender.

Anyhow, being able to string together a grouping of sentences that aren't retarded and don't bore people to sleep is not a skill that everyone possesses.  In fact, I am learning that it is rarer than one would think.  I was once sent an excerpt of a book that someone was planning on self-publishing and it took me about 15 minutes to read the first two pages because the writing was so cumbersome that every laborious sentence was like a pit of quicksand bogging down your progress to the next.  And this was someone who clearly thought they were "a writer." 

And, that, perhaps, is why the hater in me is so down of self-proclaimed "writers:" because the claim is so often accompanied by a certain pomposity and self-delusion.  I didn't want to be "that guy."  I feel like I'm perfectly competent at writing, but I have no "credentials."  Still, I read a lot of stuff on the internets and some of the writers whose bloggy bits I most anticipate aren't even writers.  They're chefs who are good at writing or artists who are good at writing or whatevers who are good at writing.  Is one a writer by merit of being good at writing?  What say ye, netizens?
Tags: blogging, identity, publishing, writing

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