Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Be Or Not To Be A Writer


Writing a daily blog does not make one a writer. Or does it? Opinions vary, of course, but as Plato said: "Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." So who can say, as a fact, exactly what does make a writer?

I don't know the answer to that. So I have been searching out some opinions on writing from selected well-known authors. Below are a few of the quotations and opinions I found. They do not necessarily point out what it is that makes a writer, but they interested me.

My stories run up and bite me in the leg -- I respond by writing them down -- everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.
--Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

1920 --

At the Daily Beast I recently read a short paragraph presented by Christopher Hitchens about the teaching and the learning of how to write:

"To my writing classes I used to open by saying that anybody who could talk could also write. Having cheered them up with this easy-to-grasp ladder, I then replaced it with a huge and loathsome snake: "How many people in this class, would you say, can talk? I mean really talk?" That had its duly woeful effect. I told them to read every composition aloud, preferably to a trusted friend. The rules are much the same: Avoid stock expressions (like the plague, as William Safire used to say) and repetitions. Don’t say that as a boy your grandmother used to read to you, unless at that stage of her life she really was a boy, in which case you have probably thrown away a better intro. If something is worth hearing or listening to, it’s very probably worth reading. So, this above all: Find your own voice."

Easy on the Hooptedoodle is a short piece of advice on writing in The New York Times written by Elmore Leonard.

Opening paragraph:

These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

Elmore Leonard

Author of Hombre, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and many others

As I said, opinions vary as to what exactly a writer is. But I suppose it really doesn't matter. My opinion? I believe the old basic premise: A writer writes. It seems to me that that's enough of a definition.

That's my opinion.

(Of course, I haven't been feeling well lately.)

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
--William Faulkner


  1. A writer writes. /= A writer is a person who writes.

    After all, my friend, a writer lives and dies.

  2. Yes, of course. Thanks for the editing and for the insightful comment, Anthony.