Who's a writer ?

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Sat Nov 13, 2010 5:16 pm Post

Hi there,

I'm new here, and I wasn't really expecting to become a member in an English speaking forum, as I write mainly in French and German.
For the moment, I will not come out with written stuff, unless some of you are interested in philosophy, psychology, spirituality and such, all written in French, except some pieces in German.

There is just one thing I would like to say : In the description of this group, it is said that one is a writer only when someone else says he is.
I do not really like that definition, as I know many people who will be very quick at criticising, although they are not able to do half of what a real writer would do to complete a story she/he is working on.
This would mean that no one can be a writer, unless the others accept to consider him as such.

The definition I prefer comes from the movie "Sphere", and it says (translation back to English) : When you wake up every morning and cannot think of anything but writing, then you are a writer.

So what would you think of that one ?

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Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:24 pm Post

Lilith!! :shock: Mère impitoyable de Lucifer, nous conserver ! ! :(
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Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:27 pm Post

Hi Lilith,

Well, I wake up each morning and think that I want to write (it's easier at that time: it seems that all your character are free to move in your mind the whole night). I actually write some scenes. But I wouldn't say I'm a writer.

I think being a writer is an attitude. You must feel you are it. Or, maybe someone else is telling you you are a writer (as in the quoted motto), and you understand you are it.

Cheers, Paolo

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Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:30 pm Post

I'd say a writer is someone who has written and completed something, not those who are going to write and never conclude a story/essay/article...

Being published is sort of a luck of the draw once a writer has a completed work. Luck, that is, that will happen if the writing is good enough and the writer is persistent about submitting it.
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:54 pm Post

I'm one of those who have worked on one single story for more than thirty five years, making it more beautiful, and longer as well, but who could never decide to share it with others, as afraid they would laugh about it.

And when, in the end, I decided to complete it with the only thing it still needed (true descriptions from a true place, that remained to define), something else came out of it, which was worth being lived.

A kind of "inspiration spring" would open above my pen, and I just let it flow for eight years, studying a lot, reading much and commenting what I had learnt.

And now, after this fabulous experience, I'm one of those who have a thousand never ended things to terminate, to correct, to clip together, to move around, to sort out, and, maybe later on, to publish.

So, although I can understand what you mean, I cannot completely agree with it.

To me it seems that publication is the very last thing of all.
During the 35 years on that novel, I was convinced that I was not a writer, since I had not even completed nor published a single book.
Quality was important to me.
And I didn't realise that I was still wondering if quantity would suffice.
Well, once I started wondering on this, I found out that I had only about 2000 A4 pages in small characters.
Laugh out loud. One can sometimes be stupid...

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Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:06 pm Post

:shock: 2000… pages…

small type on A4? That's what, 500+ words per page? So a guesstimated million words… Which is enough for 10 novels, give or take a few.

Maybe you have a series, there?

On topic:

I consider a writer someone who writes, and you're only an author after you've been published by someone else and/or had someone pay you for your writing and be happy to do so. I'm still working on reaching "author" status for fiction, myself. :mrgreen:
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Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:45 am Post

Carradee wrote:I consider a writer someone who writes

Yep. And I've read plenty of published authors (to use Carradee's very nice distinction) who have said much the same thing when discussing writing. I think it was Natalie Goldberg who said something along the lines of "Writers write" (unfortunately I've lent my copy of Wild Mind to a friend so I can't check if it was her or, if it was, what she actually said).

Perhaps everyone has a novel* in them, but only a very few of them write it - they are the ones who are writers.

*or a family history, or scripts, poetry, articles or a thesis**
**Personally, I'm currently hoping I have a thesis in me. If I can do that, then maybe I'll move on to novels.
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Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:45 pm Post

Hallo Litith,

das Original stammt übrigens von Rilke aus seinem Brief an Franz Xaver Kappus vom 17. Februar 1903:

"Niemand kann Ihnen raten und helfen, niemand. Es gibt nur ein einziges Mittel. Gehen Sie in sich. Erforschen Sie den Grund, der Sie schreiben heißt; prüfen Sie, ob er in der tiefsten Stelle Ihres Herzens seine Wurzeln ausstreckt, gestehen Sie sich ein, ob Sie sterben müßten, wenn es Ihnen versagt würde zu schreiben.

Dieses vor allem: fragen Sie sich in der stillsten Stunde Ihrer Nacht: muß ich schreiben? Graben Sie in sich nach einer tiefen Antwort. Und wenn diese zustimmend lauten sollte, wenn Sie mit einem starken und einfachen ich muß dieser ernsten Frage begegnen dürfen, dann bauen Sie Ihr Leben nach dieser Notwendigkeit; Ihr Leben bis hinein in seine gleichgültigste und geringste Stunde muß ein Zeichen und Zeugnis werden diesem Drange. Dann nähern Sie sich der Natur. Dann versuchen Sie, wie ein erster Mensch, zu sagen, was Sie sehen und erleben und lieben und verlieren."

Was im Film "Sister Act" ziemlich frei so weidergegeben wurde:

”Wenn du abends schlafen gehst und ans Schreiben denkst und wenn du morgens aufwachst und nur ans Schreiben denken kannst, dann bist du der geborene Schriftsteller.”

Viele Grüße


PS: Sorry for german ...

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:26 am Post

Writers write, authors rewrite. Hardly any authors out there who did not have to re-write or have their work edited by someone else in order to become authors, i.e., published. So, all authors are writers but not all writers are authors. Nothing to do, mind you, with "good" writers, "good" writing, or any variation of the theme. The difference, at times, between writers and authors, doesn't even have anything to do with quality of work but on social occurrences that permit some to enter the world of publication and earning a living from it. Another conundrum, as not all authors, actually a very small percentage, actually do live from their craft. Funnily enough, some make more money at talking about their work in conferences during tours, than from their actual royalties. Welcome to the world of twisted mirrors and stained glass.

All the best,


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Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:35 pm Post

Lilith wrote:To me it seems that publication is the very last thing of all.
During the 35 years on that novel, I was convinced that I was not a writer, since I had not even completed nor published a single book.
Quality was important to me.
And I didn't realise that I was still wondering if quantity would suffice.
Well, once I started wondering on this, I found out that I had only about 2000 A4 pages in small characters.
Laugh out loud. One can sometimes be stupid...

That's a lot of writing :shock:

Does your book(s) have a title? What's it about?
As if I didn't talk enough: Dom on Writing

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Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:59 pm Post

I am a writer.

I had a section of short story printed in a magazine, one part of three that was scheduled. However, in his rush to get two thousand words on just three pages of a .pdf, he decided to pack whole conversations into four and five line paragraphs. I was happily paid a per-copy rate, but the other two sections of that piece never saw the light of day.

There was another piece that I volunteered for a newsletter for a gaming shop: When I failed to keep it short, the entire piece was serialized over several months. Not that I made it easy for the poor guy, but he always managed to find a nice breakpoint that had people bugging me for weeks afterward as to what would happen next.

By strict definition, I am an author: I have been paid for at least one work.

I don't think I've quite earned that title, however. An author must be willing to toss out an entire work, and rewrite it for it's own good.

That day is coming soon. I'm currently writing background material I haven't touched in twenty years or more, with the intent of rewriting all of the material currently in my collection. When the first rewritten book is complete, then I will be well on my way to that coveted title. I go through my day, crawling the web looking for the building blocks to create a reasonable, believable Universe not just to play in myself, but for my readers to enjoy, should I ever be lucky enough to have some.

I wait for my toddler to take naps, so I can write. After he goes to sleep at night, it begins again. It continues until I can no longer type, then to bed and do it all again tomorrow.

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Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:25 am Post

Writing is a two-way street. I used to write, for many years, as a form of therapy or venting, to think things through, to live outside my life for a time, or to live more firmly inside my head for a time. That was one side of the street, where writing was doing something for me -- and then I was Not a writer. I was a user of writing for my own purposes.

I've since gotten a lot more serious about the novel that's been my ongoing project for seven years or more and I feel it's on the path to completion. My attitude has changed completely. My writing is now subservient to the story. I owe it to the story to tell it, and to revise it as necessary to let the story be understood. So, in that way, I am also subservient to my hipothetical audience. Although I have yet to finish anything and publishing is nowhere on the horizion, I feel a lot more justified in applying the word "writer" to myself.

So, that's my conclusion: when writing is a selfish endeavour, applying titles to oneself might smell arrogant and inappropriate; but when it's a selfless, goal-oriented process with a respect for the recepients and for the story... Well, then I'd subscribe to the very apt "writer" versus "published author" distinction.
- Kseniya

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Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:19 pm Post

I consider an author someone who has published a work. A writer, on the other hand, is someone who is writing, i.e. who continues to produce written work.

Furthermore, if one writes, even if only for oneself, that person may consider herself or himself a writer. For others (say, me) to consider him or her a writer, we must see their writing, or at least evidence of it (public reactions, etc.).

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Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:38 am Post

My best writing I've ever done was today.

I think I actually started creating last night, in my restless dreams, when my characters threw a curve at me and wrote their own end to their story. And it was better than the ending I had planned, roughed out, cork-boarded and outlined! Seriously. If the characters take control of their own lives, and control the writing, you are a writer. That's a good enough definition for me, anyway.

Either I'm a writer or this day is an indication I might benefit from heavy sedation.

I'm sure I'm a writer, but really, so what?

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Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:41 pm Post

I had an article extolling the virtues of businesses employing real-life receptionists to answer their telephones (as opposed to automated, robotic, answering machines) published in The Lady once. Does that count!? :-)
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