A recent post at the Kill Zone blog prompted this post.
In my view, all you have to do to be a writer is to write.
I’ve noticed that many of those who object to that view express their disagreement in terms of how it makes them feel, and particularly in terms of what they perceive in the unworthy claimants to be lack of sufficient motivation, seriousness, or dues paid. They typically draw some subjective finish line that in their mind demonstrates a person has the requisite motivation, seriousness, or pain. A line that they themselves have already crossed, of course.
My view is that writers should take words more seriously. We shouldn’t create arbitrary definitions based on perceived threats to our self-image any more than a lawyer should re-frame a precedent to avoid looking bad during closing arguments.
Do we allow only Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and their ilk to call themselves golfers, or does the guy who plays an occasional 9 and a full 18 on the weekends get to call himself a golfer?
Do we allow only Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, Joe Satriani and their ilk to claim to be guitarists, or does the guy who plays songs in his home for his own enjoyment and to entertain his kids get to call himself a guitarist?
In my humble, but accurate, opinion, anyone who expresses thoughts in the written word is a writer. As writers do, we can affix adjectives to qualify that appellation, such as casual, serious, deluded, professional, regrettable, accomplished, award-winning, best-selling, published, unpublished, or even the admittedly annoying, pre-published.
But we should respect the language, the process and the end result more than to stoop to redefining words based on self interest.