February 6, 2013

What Is A Writer Today?

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David Sedaris is a writer. Thomas L. Friedman is a writer. Louis C.K. is a writer. Chuck Klosterman is a writer. Lena Dunham is a writer. Molly McAleer is a writer. Kelly Oxford is a writer. I, myself, am a writer. However, when I say that writing is my profession I say it with such shame and non-confidence you would think I was lying. I actually fear most people do think I’m lying when I say I’m a writer. Because what is a writer to most people? A writer to most people today is a journalist, novelist or writer of screenplays for the movies and television. Or someone who writes 140 characters just perfectly. To some people, that Twitter words magician is more of a writer than someone putting in 1000 plus words per day.

There are so many different kinds of writers it is actually quite beautiful. That people care so much about their voice being heard or their words being read, or for the readers who have pre-ordered a book from their favorite author or still subscribe to The Times because they want that old school ink on their fingers as they catch up with their favorite journalist; that…. is full on beautiful.

A 12-year-old girl writing everyday in her journal then locking it away in her secret drawer is a writer.

A 16-year-old putting his or hers thoughts out there on a blog for the world to see, knowing only his/her parents are the only people who will probably read it, is a writer.

The post-grad writing each day for free for an online publication is a writer.

The almost one million plus readers that come to this site each day who read words by writers who only write online are reading…writers.

Blogging is such an embarrassing term, or at least I thought so for so long. But why? Maybe because I felt like I wasn’t talented enough to type words anyone would care about, or worse, the thought of knowing that no one would even read it. But know this, the teen bloggers of today will absolutely be the voice of their generations when it comes.

A journalist is a writer that reports the news. That is what a journalist does, and there are very romantic versions of world traveling journalists and then there are the journalists that reports the facts on what happened in a small town council meeting.

A novelist, an author, oh how we all so badly want to believe our life is a memoir (and maybe it is) is more provoking in their words. Some authors, honestly, are just born with it. It’s a God-given skill. Other authors have that skill but need editors to guide their words and then maybe an actual book will come of it. Now you can even self-publish a book, so yay! We’re all authors!

When someone asks me what I do, it goes exactly like this nearly every single time: “I’m a writer.” “Oh, cool, like books or screenplays and stuff?” “No, I’m an online writer. I write for a few publications online and also have my own online magazine called Serial Optimist.” “Oh, so you like, blog and stuff.” (Said as a statement, not as a question.) “Yes, that’s pretty much what I do.” “So what’s your real job though?” “Writing. That is my job.” “Oh, yeah that’s cool.” (Said with much less excitement than the first time around.)

But, screw them for their ignorance. And screw me for feeling ashamed at my answer, because I couldn’t follow it up with the title of a book or the name of a TV show. We should all be proud writers, whatever it is we’re writing. You know what a real job is? An online writer. An online editor. You know what publications have the most influence on society? The online version of The Times, or The Huffington Post, or Slate or on and on. Where did these people come from who are writing shows like Parks and Recreation, New Girl, Happy Endings, Girls, they aren’t all graduates of journalism school, they are people who wrote a blog for a few years that gained an audience, that paid their dues online and was hand picked to help develop a show.

For now, to most people, being an “online writer” might not be a real job. However, if you’re writing for a title (lol right?) then you know, you aren’t a writer, online or off. If you’re writer because that’s what your heart tells you to do, and you write when you don’t want to, and it’s work, then forget about everything else, because you can proudly say “I’m a writer.” TC mark

David Dean

David Dean is the publisher of Serial Optimist and writer of things that hopefully make you smile. He is a comedy …

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