Giselle Marks

Regency Romance and Fantasy Author

What is a Writer?

on January 8, 2015

giselle grey toneIt sounds a silly question to ask does in not? Should you give me a definition of someone who writes for a living? What about all those amateurs and semi-professionals out there; are they not writers? Then is a writer someone whose main activity or hobby is writing? Even that is too tight a description of a writer, because many whom I consider writers may be involved in other activities or hobbies that overshadow their writing. Many writers are creative in other ways, photography, sculpture, crafts, arts and music. Some are into metal work, caring for disabled animals or caring professions and lifestyles. I know writers who are extremely talented in all these areas and more. Even if they only write a paragraph a month does that stop them being writers?

Many would select a certain cut off point where they draw a line between writers and non-writers. Yet the more I looked at the concept, the more people I found I would include as writers. I tried to look at it backwards and see who might be non-writers, so that I could exclude them. The effort was an unmitigated failure. There are few people who never write for their own pleasure or anyone else’s. Do you ever write a thank you letter or a postcard to a friend? Do you experience joy in writing something for work purposes? Apart from a few people we know who struggle with literacy I’ve swept most of the educated world up in that definition.

There is no such thing as an average or typical writer. Some writers I have met on line are dyslexic, but their limitations vanish when a decent editor proofs their work. Many have physical or mental problems which may limit their output or influence the subjects or content of their work. I am stunned by the quality of their writing even without making allowances for the problems they are struggling with or against. It is truly humbling to know how hard they work to give others pleasure. They have taught me determination and courage are worth striving for, reminding me that you do not have to be a best-selling author to be a writing hero.

I did not admit in public to being a writer until I had my first book published. Yet I have had many articles published. I even worked part time for a small now defunct local newspaper, where I wrote, edited, took photos, answered the phone and sold advertising. I realise that there is a great deal of difference between being a factual writer and writing stories or fictional books. It is a craft that I am still learning and enjoying the process. I remain shy, hiding behind a pen name and refusing to have publicity photographs. Promotion for me is for my writings not for self- aggrandisement. I write primarily because I enjoy it, believing I have some aptitude for it.1 am writer t shirt

So what should I call myself? Writer is rather a vague definition as you see we have to separate writers into groups:- poets, authors, journalists, bloggers, novelists, editors, technical writers and diarists are a few of the sub-classifications. All of those have or do apply to me, but you could further categorise them into professional, semi-professional and amateur without even going into the genres written, or the readership those writers aim at pleasing. I did not include screen or play writers or song writers, but they too deserve credit as writers.

Now I had a point in starting this article but the topic was so huge that I have digressed somewhat. I was discussing with another writer the whole gamut of writing, we argued over whether celebrities who have autobiographies or novels ascribed to them could be considered writers, if they employed ghost writers. The ghost writers who have put in the sweat and struggle to pen these epics, while dealing with possibly temperamental stars are certainly writers. Their efforts should be respected even though they do not get credit for their labour. I ask myself how much input did the celebrity actually have, so can we consider him or her, a writer? Does dictating their reminiscences or plot ideas count towards the categorisation?

I personally get a bit snippy at this point. I have dictated for typists and typed from audio tapes. Of course I wrote the pieces I dictated even though someone else typed them. It was also me that checked them and corrected them on the tape. The position I was occupying at that time had a typing pool with several blind typists. I was asked not to type my work because I have very clear speech, so it kept them occupied. It took longer to dictate the edits required for them, than if I had typed them myself but I was glad to do it. So why do I feel, that if the stars have not written or typed a letter, they are not entitled to be labelled the author of the piece. I cannot explain the feeling that they are making money off a much more skilled writer just because of their name. I suppose it is simply intellectual snobbery and shows a small dash of bigotry that I need to squash, but somehow even the fee paid to the ghost writer seems inadequate recompense.

I will just mention another conversation I had on line. I was commiserating with an author about the cost of editing, covers and publishing a first novel. I realised the author was using a publisher I personally consider as vanity press and was going to pay for a trailer and promotion. While thinking it would be nice to have the money to promote my own writing I was sympathetic about the expenses of putting out a book. When the author mentioned the cost of his ghost writer, I wondered whether the author was entitled to the title author. Now I’ve been asked to ghost a semi-autobiographical novel and with the boot on the other foot I am in a quandary about taking the money and going for it.

So am I a professional writer? I first earned some money for writing about 25 years ago. So far it has never provided me with a living, but that is now my long term aim, to be able to write well enough to support myself from my writing. However I would prefer to have my pen name on the cover of any book I write.

The T shirt design I found on Facebook with no details of where I can buy one, so if you know please leave the website in a comment…

I can be contacted on Facebook as Giselle Marks or on twitter as @GiselleMarks1

Here are some of my other links, if you want to read more of my writing or about me.

4 responses to “What is a Writer?

  1. johnrsermon says:

    Hello Giselle

    Great post. What is a writer? I always thought there were loads of explanations. None of which always re wrong or right.
    I’ve found a link for the t-shirt design you posted. And here it is

    Kind regards

  2. johnrsermon says:

    Hello Giselle
    Not sure if my last comment posted.
    Great post. I doubt they’ll ever be a right or wrong answer for the what is a writer question. Unfortunately.
    I found a link for the t-shirt design you posted. And here it is

    Kind regards


  3. bhalsop says:

    Just saw this and see others have gotten you the address. I just received notice that mine is on the way today!

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