Please Don’t Call Me A Writer

I was not a kid who kept a journal or scribbled or longed to be a reporter. I was not a particularly strong writer until I started the graduate program in political philosophy at LSU where I was required to write – constantly. I was also required to read some pretty amazing writing. Somehow that three-year experienced solidified my intuitive connection with writing.

But I am not a writer.

When I began blogging, I was doing it as an extension of my activism and my desire to share the good news about … anything? I had no delusions of becoming a writer. I barely paid attention to spell check, much less sentence structure. I was not thinking about being hired to write or pursuing journalism or anything like that.

I wrote to communicate and punctuation rarely got in the way. Try not to shudder.

When people compliment my writing, I appreciate it – it is always lovely to receive a compliment, especially about a skill or a trait. But I am not a writer. My blog posts are far too meandering and rant-like to qualify as “articles.” I am more of a stream of consciousness blogger than a careful writer, practicing their craft. An eight plus year series of personal essays if you will.

Pittsburgh Lesbian

I joined the National Writers Union which required me to be published. I have never been paid to write, but my volume of work as a blogger reached far enough back in time and covered multiple platforms, so I was in!

But I am not a writer. I am never going to be paid to write an article. I don’t aspire to do so. I know dozens of underemployed actual writers who are pursuing those opportunities. I’ve turned down a half-dozen “opportunities” aka unpaid writing gigs because it annoys me that the publishers want to exploit writers. Would I like to be paid? Sure, of course. But apparently not enough to really set my mind to it. And these folks are damn good writers.

I still don’t keep a journal or a diary. You know what I do best? Write business letters. I have always been the go-to person at work to draw up the letter, the ask, the announcement, etc. It is an interesting combination of intuition and pragmatism. I’ve never been trained as an editor so when I critique someone’s business letter, I am merciless because it is always bigger than the person writing (or signing) this one document. It is a group effort. Plagiarism is fine (within the work setting) because we are there to serve people. Saving time by lifting someone else’s writing (with the boss’ knowledge) is saving money to be spent on some other critical need. It is a very different beast than college writing classes would have us believe.

Wow, I can feel the pull of another post on blogging and attribution, so I’ll wrap up things now.

If you describe me as a writer, I’ll smile and change the subject. I’m not writing a novel and I’ve never written a poem – to me those are things that “real writers” do. I write blog posts because I want you – my reader – to click away from this screen with some new piece of information. Or I want you to take action. Maybe blogging is a form of writing and I’m overthinking it.

Then again, maybe I’m not.



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