This is the definition of a writer as according to the Second Letter of Google:
Brothers and sisters: a writer is
According to this definition, I am a writer. According to this definition, probably everyone in the world is a writer, as probably everyone in the world has written some particular text.
I once asked my professor if we had the right to say that a certain someone shouldn't be a writer. "I mean, anyone can be an actor, right?" I said. And he said that no, not everyone can act. Sure, someone can stand behind a camera and repeat a few memorized lines, but that isn't what makes a person an actor. You either have the spark or you don't. You can try and try and study and try, and in the end, you might be the most hardworking person in the universe. You might be a double-eyeballed Mike Wazowski. But the world wants Sulleys.
I'm not going to answer the question "Should anybody be a writer?" First, I'm too young and too under-qualified to break that question down. Second, that question is about as simple as "Would I look good in fuchsia overalls?" Depends on whether or not you like fuchsia, or overalls, or clothes in general. You get the picture. Instead, I want to hammer out my definition of "a writer." I want to break it down and simplify it, which will most likely mean that I'll over-complicate it, 'cause that's what usually happens. You're just going to have to bear with me. Good luck.
Note: This post was inspired by a conversation with a friend of mine. What started out as a simple question turned into one of those lengthy, philosophical rants that resulted in a weary acknowledgement of the fact that we both over-analyze things to a dangerous level. You should check her out over on Film Spine because she's scary smart and awesome to read. (I mainly want you to check out her site so you can translate her posts for me. I have a list of vocabulary words that need defining.)
Who Can Write?
I don't think there is any objection to the idea that anyone can write; the main question is whether anyone should write. The "should" question is the one I'm not answering. Sorry...
If anyone can write, then there is no point to be having this section at all. BUT I'M GOING TO HAVE IT ANYWAY. IN ALL CAPS.
I think that anyone who has something to say can write. Now, some people are really bad at saying things. Not everyone is endowed with the ability to find a specific thought in the conglomeration that is the Thought Factory, and then narrow that thought, and then translate that into words, and then express it. That is a hard thing to do. Half the time I don't even know what I'm saying but I keep saying it anyway because it would be awkward to try to stop myself in this way: "I think writers can write because it's their right and...I mean, what constitutes a writer? Everyone writes, right? Therefore...purple overalls...blurk...*vocal cords seal themselves*..."
Anyone can write. Hopefully there is no writing police patrolling our fingers and forcing us to swallow our words before our hands can spill them. But if all six billion people can write, how are our varying shades of personality accounted for? Not everyone is going to sit down and produce an espionage novel. We are all different. Did you know this? You probably didn't, so I will tell you very clearly: People are different! Write that down. (Supposing that the writing police hasn't found you.)
Types Of Writers
Here are the different types of writers I am most confronted with:
The Coffee Shop Stalker
Greetings. I'm majoring in either Philosophy, Film, or some variant of English. I only drink coffee black, though I may add a spot of honey to my tea. If I am a male, my facial hair will be thick and overwhelming. If I am a female, my scarves make up for my lack of beard. I am incredibly well-read and my vocabulary is bursting with words such as "transient" and "quixotic." My bookshelf is collapsing due to the amount of Tolstoy and Borges, and yes, I have actually read all the classics on my shelf. You will find me raising my hand to astound the professor in all of my classes. I often drink coffee with my professors while we pore over my impending thesis. My writing is complex and analytical—you will need to read it twice. Or maybe thrice. I get fives on my papers (you thought the professors only gave fours, didn't you?) and my fingers are stained with ink and highlighter. Let's converse. Mind the sticky notes.
The Blog-spotting Word-presser
Hi! I'm one of those rare, insightful people who know exactly what needs to be said. My good advice isn't all; I'm also funny and great at making perfect sense. My writing is clean and easy to read, but don't mistake that for shallowness; I just have a knack for simplifying things so that anyone can read it and understand. I'm versatile, so I'm majoring in anything from Psychology to Education. I love reading books that make me feel, just as I love writing things that melt your heartstrings. I can excel at both blog posts and emotional short stories in my Creative Writing class. If you want to talk, just let me know! Mind the pet fur.
The One Often Drooling Over A Fiction Novel
Hello. I have varying levels of extremity. I can be the nerd with three Star Wars, one Doctor Who, and one Sherlock poster, as well as a Lord of the Rings calendar and two Harry Potter pillows. Or I can be the person meandering through the young-adult fiction section at your local bookstore. I'm probably majoring in English or Creative Writing. I love talking about the character development—or lack thereof—of the latest hit series. I also enjoy analyzing the Deus ex machina's that permeate Barnes and Noble. I mean, that plot hole on page 341 could have been adjusted to allow for a more realistic ending. I can be overly-descriptive, or I can cut to the chase if that is what is necessary. Again, varying levels of extremity. I'd love to discuss why Harry and Hermione never would have worked. Mind the bookmarks.
I'm pretty analytical and succinct. I'm studying Communications or Political Science. I'm always floating around the downtown events so that I can write about them on your city's website. I don't read much fiction, but that isn't to say that I'm not well-read and up-to-date with the world's issues. If you have something important to say, I'll hear it. Mind the iPad.
Are Writers Limited to Genres?
That is to say, if I'm a great journalist but a not-so-great creative writer, am I a writer after all? All of the previous writers I defined are great at their craft. There is no doubt that each one knows how to construct meaningful words. I felt the need to define these writers in defense of the idea that some would deem that you are only a writer if you are 1) Getting paid; 2) Writing books. Are those the only criterion? Why is a task that includes multiple genres summed up with one word?! WHAT IS A WRITER? *The moment when I realize that this entire post has been for naught, because I'm no less confused than I was before.*
Some people may only ever be good at blog posts. Some people may only ever achieve "awesomeness" whilst dissecting Vonnegut or creating an alien species whose sole aim is to steal light bulbs from the human race. But, because I'm really only good at electrical engineering, am I no longer an engineer? Do I need to excel at mechanical and chemical and civil and the thirty thousand other engineering genres that exist? That doesn't seem fair.
Here is the dealio. I think. Whether or not we intend to, we may limit ourselves to specific genres. Some actors and actresses have been pigeonholed for comedic roles, or "save-the-world-from-nuclear-threats" roles, or espionage roles, or "awkward-guy-who-gets-the-pretty-girl" roles. And you know what? Those actors/actresses are good at those roles. Some try to branch off, and you cringe when you watch them attempt something that they don't particularly excel in. And sometimes they branch off and astound you with their versatility. I don't think the question is whether writers are limited to genres; rather, does a writer wish to be limited to a genre. It is very easy to mold yourself into a genre. It is very hard to break out of that mold.
But it is possible.
No one can write because life is futile.
Just kidding. Anyone can write. Anyone can find his outlet of choice and fill a page with words. Those words may never be read. Those words may not make sense. Those words may not earn you a publishing deal. But they may mean something to you, which is the most important part of writing. Above all, a writer should mean something to himself.
I'm sorry, guys. I don't know why I can't suppress the urge to end my posts on cheesy, cliché notes. I implore you to take this cheese and laugh at it, eat it, touch it, throw it away, because cheese is actually really gross, and I'm pretty sure I'm the one American who doesn't like cheese. Or mayonnaise. Or ranch. Or a whole host of white creamy things. (Sour cream, yogurt, butter, and various other things that come from cows.)
On that entirely useless note, I bid you and this very long post adieu. Write if you can, friends.