Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Writer's Craft

The other day I was thinking about writing and how much I do, and whether I could call myself a 'writer'? So I thought what better way to discuss this than actually writing it.

To start, what makes a writer? Now I thought about this in some depth. Is it someone who simply writes? Is it somebody or publishes their writing? Is it somebody who gets paid for their writing? Well I write, so thats the first box checked. What counts as publishing? Do blogs and self-published websites count or does it have to be published by somebody else? Well I am going to say blogs count, and I have had occasional newspaper articles and such like, so I am going to plump for saying I am published. I have been paid (barely, I can't say $1.11 on my suite101 account is massive) so does this mean I have earnt the mantle of writer? The final piece is do you have readers? Well I got a text the other day asking about my blog, so I would say people read, not by the hundreds or thousands, but people read, and I have to say I am happy with that.
As a side note I always get a shiver of excitement when people tell me they read this, or, even better, ask me questions or tell me their opinion on either my writing or the subject. I don't know why, I just don't expect people to actually read this, it begs the question why do I bother putting it out there?
Now going back to the matter in hand. Also I feel there needs to be a confidence or a belief in what you are writing in order to publish, and in that case, being subjected to the criticism. I have letters from good friends who have worried or disliked their work being read, yet I have read them and felt that they were fantastic and was completely touched by the subjects within them. I know its no mean feat to put work out for people to read. My belief is that writing should be read, even by a few, so that's what pushes me to continue with blogs. Also I enjoy it, when it becomes a chore I will stop.
Now what makes a good or great writer? This was the question I mulled over the most. Now I could go down the journalism line that was pounded into me at university. 'Tell the reader something they already know in an engaging and impartial way that includes both sides of the story represented in quotes.' Well thats all great and good, but I honestly believe that I am falling further and further away from ever been called a journalist, even if I have bits of paper that says I can be.
So what would be my definition? Well the closest I got to was this: A good writer is somebody who can provoke emotions of either happiness and laughter, misery and sadness, pure anger or even intrigue from their readers then that is essentially what writing is for as a craft, in my opinion. Now to go on from there, a great writer does all of these things, but also inspires. Inspires people to pursue either writing or the subject of the writing. Now this has no scientific measurment, this is totally in the eye of, not the writer themselves, but the reader. Which is why I feel you can never ask somebody who writes if they are good, you decide that for yourself by reading.
The reader deciding the fortunes of the writer, is unfair but in my opinion, a more true way of deciding the great and good. The writer has to hope that their works falls into the hands of someone who believes and connects with the words on the page.
Also how the writer should be defined goes on the reader. As it depends on their reaction, therefore the term 'comedy writer' or 'drama writer' should be earnt, because they have a history of writing material that provokes the particular emotions associated with the genre, rather than meeting somebody in the pub and them say "Oh aye I am a comedy writer me like. I write proper funny stuff."
Anyway this is my opinion, I haven't discussed it with others. If you feel I have missed something feel free to leave a comment, or have a chat with me if you know me, I mentioned before that I enjoy that.
So as for how I would define myself? Well its not like me to be complimentary of my work, so I am going to stick to saying "I write a bit" and let other people make their minds up. Although if anyone wants to pay me to write, let me know! I will happily call myself whatever you want then!

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