A Book Does Not Necessarily a Writer Make

I am a writer.

The difference between what that means to me and what it means to other people was brought home when I introduced myself to my composition class at the beginning of this semester.

“I have been writing professionally for several decades, longer than most of you have been alive,” I said.

“Oh? What books have you written?” one of my students asked.

The truth is I haven’t written any books – not one (not yet). Any writer will tell you that she has a book in her. I have three or four that have been trying to get out for years. Yet, authoring a book isn’t the only requirement for being a professional writer. Why is it that so many people think so?

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin – best selling writer, entrepreneur.

There are marketing writers, technical writers, journalists, content writers, business writers, copy writers, financial writers, medical writers, screen writers, speech writers, and blog writers. And these aren’t all the types of professional writers out there. I’ll bet most of them haven’t written books.

So what is the hang up with the book? I think it is because anyone can write, and most people do write during the course of their work lives, but not many people will write a book. For many, a book seems to be the defining difference between the rank and file and the professional writer.

My answer to that? Look around! In almost everything we do, there was someone who had to take information, synthesize it, and produce something understandable. Who do you think it was who wrote the directions for using your smart phone? Who writes all those news items? Who writes screenplays for movies? Who writes the annual reports for corporations? There is an army of unsung writers who make the world more understandable. They’re the ones who allow us to access the information we need.

Of course, book authors are professional writers, too, but the measure of a writer is not dependent upon a book.

I may not have written a book, but I’ve written news articles, editorials, features, letters, presentations, a user manual, brochures, reports, e-mails, blogs, web pages, lesson plans, and more that I can’t even remember. That is how I’ve made my living. There is more writing, Dear Reader, than is thought of in just books!

I am a professional writer. I have written volumes, but I have not written a volume.

 

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