I am not a writer.
I say that a lot, especially of late, but I don’t think people really understand why. It’s not false modesty, or fishing for people to tell me I am one, or that I am good at it. It’s that I think the standard of writing required to be labelled a writer is markedly higher than my own skills in the field.
Compiling recaps of The Biggest Loser isn’t much more than transcription with a few swears and observations thrown in. It’s more about having the ability to type a decent amount of words per minute than it is any particular ability with shaping those words into something worth reading.
Doing a piece for Player Attack is more about babbling on about a game (or concept, recently) until I feel like I’ve said enough that people might read it and be interested by something I’ve blurted out. It’s been great for me, I’ve learned plenty of things about writing from the editorial skills of Ms Jessica Citizen after she neatens up whatever I send in, but other than that one super (un)popular Guild Wars 2 article I’m not too sure what any of the people reading my bits have thought.
Plus there’s always the niggling thought at the back of my mind that I only get asked to do such things because I obviously have so much free time and can readily spit out a great quantity of words on most any subject.
And that’s mostly true, I do often have the free time to write something and, especially if it’s something I’m interested in, can generally mush together my thoughts into some words on the subject.
And that’s mostly untrue, in that I doubt I would keep getting asked to write something if it was just because I can do so in relatively short order. There are plenty of other people who have thoughts and ideas and they all tend to be more qualified than me. As in they write about gaming things and big magazines pay them money for those words. Or they have some kind of a degree from a university.
Or they at least did the fancy English course in High School. Something other than just reading a lot of books and not knowing when to shut the hell up.
Perhaps my time in school is where some of the writer-insecurity comes from? Oh, not the usual tale of a bullied nerd, but the lack of any real recognition or encouragement when it came to anything writing related. The closest I got was encouragement to stick with the debating team.
Yes, I was argumentative in school, too. But scribbling notes on cue cards and having to turn those into speeches defending a point of view mostly came easily to me and it’s probably influenced my writing more than most things.
Maybe I would have stretched further in my English studies if I hadn’t been so heavily discouraged by the attitude of my Year Six teacher, Mrs Zotter? In her mind if you weren’t writing in cursive you were doomed to mediocrity. And the high school teachers would mark you down for it. So you have to write in cursive!!!
As it turned out, high school teachers didn’t give a crap so long as your writing was legible. So all those times she harangued me into doing the much slower cursive lettering were a waste of everyone’s time, not to mention quite discouraging for a youngster who thought the content of the writing should be more important than the neatness.
Then in Year Seven or Eight I had a teacher who set us Macbeth to read. Only it was Macbeth in comic book form.
I sometimes wonder how much of my language skills were learned in school past the fourth grade. I suspect I learned more about good sentence structure and fancier words from reading a lot of books and subconsciously assimilating the knowledge from there.
The insecurity surrounding my abilities as a person who writes things might also have something to do with severe depression and a generally poor outlook on life and future prospects, particularly in the area of employment.
The most creativity required of me in any previous employed position was figuring out how to get to and from work every day while getting paid only marginally more than the price of my weekly train ticket.
I didn’t keep that job, in case you were wondering how that turned out for me. What the guy was doing was actually illegal and the employment agency who set it up for me were none too thrilled when I reported back to them the conditions.
Anyway, creativity, it’s not really something I think of possessing either. And it’s another thing a writer should really have, right?
I seem to have strayed a long way off track here.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when I hear the word “writer” I think more in terms of book writers, screen writers, newspaper and magazine writers. People who write professionally, because someone thinks their words are worth money. People who write poetry or songs. People who do research and write about important things in society. People whose words I want to read.
Not some clown with an opinion and an hour to clumsily mash the keyboard.