The Difference Between A Writer And Someone Who Wants Everyone To Think They're Some Romanticized Notion Of "Writer"

A writer is not someone who has the time or motivation to write a multi-paragraph ‘piece’ consisting of long-winded prose which in essence seeks to characterize himself within an exclusive group of one-dimensional, cliche, arbitrary, romanticized human beings. A writer doesn’t see the point in doing that because, most importantly, a writer’s probably experienced or ‘wise’ enough to understand that shaping one’s entire public identity/ outward-facing persona into a sort of deep, meaningful, tangentially-insane but sage-like, pensive genius of a human being is totally inauthentic and, eventually, will turn one into either a really shallow person who judges people on the basis of pretty unreasonable/ elitists constructs, or a really frustrated Ignatius-J.-Reilly-like individual who feels totally alienated by his perceived “stupidity” of others.

In essence, a “real” “writer,” if we were to define that term reasonably – for example, how many books she sold, or how many people think about her/ her work on a daily basis, or how many other “writers” she influenced, or how many people think of her as a “writer” (think: Shakespeare, Goethe, Nietzsche, Tzu, Eliot, O’Connor, Murakami, Sexton, Hemingway, DFW, Plath, Bukowski, and etc.; these people were probably “writers”) – has become a “writer” in part because she’s already moved far past the early identity-formation stages of her life in which her writing is mostly a series of attempts at convincing others that she’s a sought-after-by-tweens-and-emo-Tumblr-girls stereotype (one would think so, at least). Instead, she understands that humans are just a little bit less angular and a little bit more multi-dimensional than that, and as such is able to write meaningful, connective, non-exclusive stuff that, you know, people actually want to read.

I think a “writer” – one like those mentioned above – would feel totally embarrassed to write that his mind is “sticky and cavernous,” that his mind is a “locus of constant invention and generation, but also of deconstruction and warfare,” because – you know who else’s mind is like that? A baby’s! Or: the Unabomber’s! Or anyone else’s, really, because that description is totally meaningless, and “successful” “writers” don’t waste words on meaningless, alliterative jazz. Writers communicate with readers, they don’t exclude them. It’s those that want everyone to think they’re some romanticized notion of “writer” who go up for metaphysical high-fives with every ego-referential, self-loving sentence.

A “writer” is a novelist, a freelancer, a copywriter, a technical writer, a poet, a journalist, a blogger. A writer wrote the small print on the back of your Colgate and got paid an annual salary of $75,000 a year doing just that, and he’s been doing it for 20 years. A writer’s a content slave who works from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night for a shitty salary of $32,000 a year. A writer is a prolific, productive freelancer who doggedly emails pitches, works with editors, figures out the perfect way to write successful, non-confrontational emails that are in essence confrontational and pushy, and propagates his byline all day, every day. A writer is a poet who’s always writing, submitting, networking, and editing. A writer is a blogger that lives on minimum wage (when her skill set could make her much, much more) because she wants the freedom to write all day and get paid for it. If anyone’s a “writer” – someone who efficiently, successfully, and consistently turns ideas into writing that influences a significant amount of people on a daily basis – it’s these here mentioned.

A “writer” writes for Facebook shares, retweets and hits. A writer writes for sales. Inaccessible writing that requires an English degree to “understand” or “appreciate” is as meaningful as its reach, and if authors with wide reaches (who write prose that can be read by people without English degrees) are disqualified from being “writers,” it follows that just about every single author who’s penned a “classic” is not a writer, but “someone who writes.” See: Shakespeare. See: Woolf. See: Bukowski. See: Hemingway. See: Plath. See: Miller. See: Shelly. See: DeLillo. See: Klosterman. See: Carver. See: Camus. See: Didion. See: McCarthy. See: Wilde. See: Byron. See: Dickens. See: Sartre. See: Yates. See: O’Connor. See: Aurelius. See: Pessoa. See: Salinger. See: Foster Wallace. See: de Beauvoir. See: Sedaris. See: Vonnegut. See: the Brontes. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Writers do write “from a place of common experience in a common language,” and their work is widely accessible to the “mass market consumer.” All these writers have enriched/ changed millions (billions?) of lives with meaningful, accessible prose in “a common language.”

A writer is nothing. A writer is no one. A writer is a human being who makes a living by successfully communicating ideas on paper/ on screen and/ or moves her readers into emotional states with her words, nothing more. A writer is not a romanticized notion of a “writer;” a romanticized notion of a “writer” is a construct, and I don’t feel like generalizing those that hold that construct true any more than I already have.

Finally, a writer doesn’t write an article that essentially delineates himself as a “writer” by offering as evidence a multi-paragraph stream of exclusionary alliteration probably-unintentionally balanced with enough haughtiness and surface-level-literary-seeming-ness via corpse/decay metaphors (or whatever) for the purpose of striking that fine chord in which one receives a relatively large amount of Facebook shares, retweets and hits (i.e. becomes “mass-market) while saying that a “writer” is not someone who does that, because writers generally try to avoid premise-level contradictions. Writers do, however, fail at avoiding them sometimes. But on the off-chance all that’s here defined as “not a writer” is actually “a writer,” then count this human being out of the “writer” club, because he definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely doesn’t want in. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Simon Fieldhouse

I am the co-publisher of Thought Catalog. Follow me on Twitter. I also use a pen name called Holden Desalles.

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