What makes a ‘writer’?

It used to be that you could call yourself a ‘writer’ if your work had been published and being sold in the book stores.  Now with self publishing we can all get our work out there online.

I am by no means suggesting that self published work is any more inferior but merely opening up the debate about what makes a writer.

With certain professions it is clear cut; you cannot declare yourself a brain surgeon without the pre-requiste years of stringent training and bits of paper and on the job experience.  Likewise with lawyers, accountants, teachers and so on and so forth.

But anyone can pick up a pen metaphorically or have access to a laptop and bang away at the keyboard, press the enter key and hey presto a writer/blogger is born and immortalised by her words.

One could argue that there are bad apples and good as there are in any professions, otherwise there wouldn’t be the need for the Law Society or GMC.  But who regulates writers and advise them to keep the day job?  Yes there are Booker prizes for the elite but what about us normal folks who just want to express ourselves and uphold our right to freedom of speech? 

I ask this as I discovered to my shock that my ex has taken to calling himself a ‘writer’ of science fiction and fancies himself a bit of a ‘poet’.  He never so much as picked up a book in the eighteen years of our past shared existence except to consult motorbike manuals and as for poetry, well, let’s just say, he never wrote me any poetry.

Yet there staring me in black and white on the Amazon/Kindle website is indeed a debut volume of love poems dedicated to none other than my replacment, the younger model and his soul mate and true love, apparently.  Quite what I was all those years God knows, willing domestic slave, bearer of his only offspring, childcare provider, bed fellow and having to help bring the bacon home too.  Not bad huh?  The full package and all with love and devotion only to find my position had become surplus to requirements.

The poems, in case you are remotely curious, are in a word crap and Blake would turn over in his grave.  So is a bad poet still a poet?





About cho wan yau

Teacher by day poet/writer by night. Words have been my first love and will be my last. As a child I locked myself into the toilet devouring books which transported me to distant lands. Poetry shared penned from 2009-2010 in a titanic struggle to stay sane at Heartbreak Hotel. Please check it out on chowanyau@wordpress.com. Any comments or feedback welcome. Why not share your story with me, because we all have one, don't we?

Posted on January 6, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. LOL!! “The poems are … crap.” Thank you (I know you may not see it quite such an amusing way!).

    • Ah you are mistaken Paul I find it highly amusing and rather pathetic. This may sound racist but I’m gonna be un-pc, shock, horror but his beloved is from Eastern Europe and I am guessing that her English is not the Queen’s English, so maybe she will think the poems are wonderful and oh so romantic and fall in love with him all over again …

      I did emailed him begging him not to produce a Volume II for fear that both our child and I would die of embarrassment. He doesn’t even hide behind a pen name but boldly declares his undying love under his real name for all and sundry to marvel at this wonderful love. He even wrote a puke worthy introduction to the struggles of their love affair over three years, comparing it to a long and winding road, original or what and how he’d feared it would end badly but joy of joys she accepted his love and now they co-habit happily ever after in the capital of Bulgaria.

      Oh what a touching love story, it brings a tear to my eye. Ah what of the heart broken wife at home, oh sod her, she’s irrelevant, out of the picture now!

    • ps. You want to know something really funny? I wrote a reader review to mock his poetry and then got a notification from Amazon that thanks to my raving review one copy had been sold! Trust me, I deleted the review forthwith. Hilarious or what??

  2. This is a fascinating question. I’ve wondered it often, since part of my job is deciding what books by total unknowns are good enough to feature in a television show. Industry people would tell you that what makes a writer is content that sells. But I’ve evaluated a lot of content that doesn’t become a best seller but is very good in my opinion. And that’s the thing. At the end of the day, what makes a writer has a decidedly subjective element.
    Poetry for the one who replaced you? I’d need to go kick on the bags or something. Sorry, lady.

    • I think TD one definition is someone who makes a living out of their writing so that is a very broad generalisation.

      I don’t make a living out of my writing although I would love to and I have yet to be published except for a few poems in an online mazagine.

      Yet I think of myself as a ‘writer’ because that is what I do and what I love. However I would hesitate to introduce myself as such as it may seem presumptuous.

      Yes I agree that what we perceive of us as good writing and can’t bear to put the book down till we reach the end may seem a real bore to others. I used to love the classics but now I am really into crime novels.

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