Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Call It What It Is ... So What Is It?

I am sure I've referred to myself as an aspiring writer before. Maybe even frequently. Chuck Wendig says I shouldn't call myself that. (Good article on the other end of that link, but fair warning—coarse language therein as well.) I understand his point. You either write or you don't. If you do, you're a writer; if you don't, you're not. Very Yoda.

With respect to Mr. Wendig, however, sometimes that's the clearest, most concise label for the type of writer I'm referring to. There are many types, and I have friends among all of them. Published writers, writers with publishing contracts who've not yet been published (would that be pre-published?), agented writers, self-published and/or indie writers.

Then there's me (and my friends rowing along in the same boat).

I suppose I could call myself an aspiring-to-be-published writer. Accurate, but kind of a mouthful. If I wanted to be really accurate about my status at this very moment, I should call myself an aspiring-to-be-agented writer. That's even more awkward.

Sometimes (maybe even most of the time), it's fine to say "writers," all-inclusive. Then there are times when I need to specify a more specific group, and if I say "aspiring writers," most people will know what I mean.

It reminds me of a discussion I had with a colleague at school a few years ago. She'd been in a discussion where some teachers stated vehemently that we shouldn't refer to some students as hard-of-hearing. It's a school for the deaf, call them all deaf (or Deaf, more accurately), and leave it at that.

Again, that's all well and good much of the time, but there are occasions when I need to refer to a particular subset of students. I joked with my friend that I'd call them Students Having Access To Sound Adequate For Acquiring Spoken English—the SHATSAFASEs. (Try saying that aloud. Yeah.)

The hard-of-hearing label has pretty much stuck. Sometimes I call them "Talkers." We all know it isn't meant to put them above or below the deaf kids—it just means speaking to them isn't a waste of breath.

So, my apologies. I'm going to continue to use "aspiring writer" when necessary for clarity.

Have you run into this type of "labelling" issue before? (Does anyone seriously use the term "vertically challenged"?)

1 comment:

S L Jenan said...

I just call myself a plain-old 'writer' for now. Once I've got that contract, I'll switch to calling myself an 'author'.

That's the distinction as I see it.