Thursday, August 7, 2008

Embarrassing Split Ends

Let me take a moment to be contemplative--and perhaps exasperated--here. There aren't any pictures accompanying the following words; so, if blocks of type cross your all means, don't throw off my sitemeter's mojo by staying longer than five seconds. We'll understand.

A famous author of sparkling hardbodies fame has described herself as a storyteller, not a writer. There are those on various discussion boards about said bedazzling superhumans who agree. They compare her style to high-end fan fiction, implying that her work is of an amateur who got lucky. Now that her latest book has been released, some disappointed readers might imprison her work among the unvisited web pages of mediocre or are-you-trying-to-use-English-as-a-first-language fan fiction. My opinion on that matter isn't the topic right now. What the word writer means, is.

Cuz, I'm not sorry to break it to these critics (even to The Author herself), but a book's words don't just apparate onto the page. They get written there. And, the last time I dropped in on Webster, Oxford, and, the person who writes words on a page--a real or virtual page--is called...wait for it...

Uh, huh. You see where I'm going.

There are different kinds or writers, of course: journalistic, humor, screenplay, playwright for stage, avant-garde, letter (a dying art, probably), anecdotal, analytical, gossip, technical, biographical, and fiction of all genres, among others I'm overlooking.

And there is a spectrum of quality for writers, from those who burn out readers' eyes with literary toxic waste to those who burn through bone and marrow via a finely-fired turn of phrase again and again.

I would like to assure everyone, here and now, that the English language has already made accommodations for our need to categorize and assess; it is okay to use adjectives. Not all adjectives at all times are dead weight. It's okay to say that someone is a "good story writer" if he or she does not also delve into the human psyche by means of haunting metaphor or resonating pearls of wisdom. And, guess what? If you've written something that hasn't been published yet or that may never be picked up by anyone other than yourself, you're still a WRITER. Yes! Glory be! The word "writer" is not a bejeweled tiara. It's a working-class designation for people who take the time to add to the variety we humans all seem to crave.

So what if there are appalling writers and timeless writers, story writers and "Literary" writers? They all get to be called writers. It is really as simple as that. No, really. It is. Honest.

Mark Twain was a storyteller, by the way. He drew in crowds when he spoke, but his fan base was populated mostly by readers...of his writing.

And that's not such bad company to keep, now is it, Ms. Meyer?


  1. ick. vampires scare me.

    (if you're wondering why i'm commenting on the book subject when it's not the main point of your dissertation, it's because i'm not smart enough to get your large blocks of text. either that or it's the dang ADD again.)

    (okay so i'm gonna comment afterall. thanks for reminding the world that CS Lewis and JK Rowling were/are both writers by their own write...i mean right...i mean rite.)



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