On whether an unpublished writer can be called a writer...

A good analogy occurred to me in the shower this morning…

Imagine you have trained as a hairdresser, and, instead of first working in someone else’s salon, you set up in business on your own. On the first day of opening your very own salon, your first customer walks in. You excitedly greet him, ask him to sit in the chair and ask for the first time, “So, what will it be today sir?” He says, “Short back and sides, please.” And you busily get on with cutting his hair. He’s not paid yet, but it is understood that you both expect him to pay you when you are finished and he is happy with the cut. At this point, you have still never been paid for cutting hair and you have never professionally finished a haircut before.
Then an old friend walks by the shop, sees you in there and pops his head in the door. “Hey, long time no see. How are you?” he says, “What are you doing, nowadays?” Despite it being quite obvious, you proudly reply, “I’m a hairdresser.” And you are, of course, fully justified in saying so.
It’s exactly the same situation with an unpublished writer (particularly if you are spending most of your working-week hours writing, and are not earning from any other profession).

I think the word for a published writer is Author.

Not that I wish to disagree with the veritable Droo, but the word author implies only the litmus test of creation.

DAVE: What the hell is this?
JOHN: What?
DAVE: Some arsewipe has painted the word “Swagglehop” on my fridge!
DAVE: John…?
JOHN: Yes Dave?
DAVE: Did you write “Swagglehop” on my fridge?

JOHN: I am the author of said missive.
DAVE: Arsewipe.

Likewise writer means nothing more than “one who writes” (I know this as I checked dictionary definitions just now to be sure my brain was oversimplifying things), and not “one who is read”. Presumably the phrase you are looking for is “readee”, or perhaps “published writer”.

Of course, if you want to fill in the occupation box on a government form with the word “writer”, I strongly suggest that you are paying your rent, your grocery bill and other household expenses with money earned through writing. If you have no other source of income, spend all your day writing, but aren’t getting anyone to give you money to live off from your efforts you should still write “unemployed” on all those tax returns.

A writer is a person who uses written words to communicate ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, news articles, screenplays, or essays. Skilled writers are able to use language to express ideas and their work contributes significantly to the cultural content of a society. The word is also used elsewhere in the arts – such as songwriter – but as a standalone term, “writer” normally refers to the creation of written language.


Herr Schweinkotflügel, did we mean, 'venerable Droo’? Bit OTT, don’t you think. Is, irritable, more apt, p’rhaps?

Venereal? No, I don’t think that’s appropriate here.

I should also point out that in the original poster’s analogy, a lot of people are in for a very bad haircut.
Maybe that was the point pipegold was making.

To quote the veritable, venerable, and venereal Truman Capote…

[size=150]That isn’t writing at all, it’s typing.[/size]

Certainly not the vulnerable Droo then… :wink:

You forgot “venomous.”

And I suspect the original quote was “That’s not writing, it’s typing,” the unnecessary and clunky “at all” having been added by careless bloggers and biographers. (Aging and whimsical memory tells me I heard Capote deliver that line, but I can’t swear to it.) I do know that Stanley Kauffmann, reviewing Capote’s In Cold Blood, wrote, “This isn’t writing, it’s research.”


Why I don’t like Truman Capote

Here’s another one that I especially like:

“Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”

Flannery O’Connor

Luvit-luvit-luvit-luvit!! :smiling_imp: More-more-more! :smiling_imp:

Pangur Ban