A Writing, Who am I, Question.

Those of you who are particularly eagle eyed will have noticed that I have changed the description of what I am above (the bit below the title of this blog).

[Warning: I may ramble]

Now, there is a reason for this: saying who I am and what I do isn’t something I find particularly easy. I do a lot of different things. Firstly I’m a writer. I write. But I write all sorts: poems, short stories, flash fiction, my book for children (which is back in stock at Amazon) – and goodness knows what else. And I run workshops. And a writing group. And I’ve had features published. And photographs.
So. Anyway. I decided, a little while ago, that the most appropriate definition of me, one which would appear at the top of this blog, was: Writer and Poet. 
I kept it simple. 
Last week, I stumbled upon a blog who’d kindly linked to me. It belongs to Emerging Writer and is well worth a look.
What she said initially made me chuckle (in a nice way), because she wondered how I created poems (if I didn’t write them: writer and poet, see?).
And then I worried: had I said something really silly? I scuttled, very quickly, to my OED and was relieved because it said, quite clearly, that writers are people who write (books, stories, articles, as an occupation) and poets are people who write poems. 
But it got me thinking. Of course a poet is a writer. Poets write poems.
The thing is, for me, writing poetry and writing stories are two totally different things. They require me to be in a totally different head space and are created, just, differently. So to me, a writer is different to a poet (and by no means in a bad way). Writing poems and writing stories are two different things. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just that they’re different (actually, I find poetry much more difficult); probably in the same way as writing novels and writing short stories are different.
So, what I want to know is, what do you think?
And I’ve changed my definition of me. Is it better, do you think?
(And thanks to Emerging Writer for making me think.)

0 Comments on “A Writing, Who am I, Question.

  1.  by  Jenn

    I’ve never dared to introduce myself to anyone as a writer yet, and I still wonder if I should call myself a ‘writer’ or a ‘novelist’.I think I’m going to stick to shrugging and staring at my shoes when someone asks me what I do.Interesting post, Nik.

  2.  by  Nik's Blog

    Best make sure they’re Good Shoes then!I think I prefer ‘writer’ cos it’s more catch-all. And I do more writing than I do novels or poems. Anyway, why not dare to tell people you’re a writer? You are. And a Very Good one.

  3.  by  Tania Hershman

    Nik, firstly, good for you for making that declaration! Writer, poet, writer and poet, poet and writer, I don’t think it matters objectively, it is what feels right to you that is important. It took me years to say “I am a writer”. I rather like the strapline on my website, TaniaHershman.com: “I write. Stories.” I felt that summed me up. No-one else can tell you who you are or what you do. I am sure you’ve told me that on occasion! I do have a problem, though (rant alert) with the title “short story writer”. I don’t think it’s fair that there are poets and novelists… but we have to have three words to describe us, and one of those words seems to judge what we write as not being “long”. We need a new word! I have been campaigning for this (silently) for a while, but no-one else seems to care. Oh well. Anyway, call yourself whatever you would like. And yes, Jenn, say it out loud! It’ll make you giggle, at least, and people at parties will step back (and often away) in awe and amazement. 🙂

  4.  by  Women Rule Writer

    The strapline on my blog is ‘Short story writer and poet from Ireland’. I thought it was the clearest way to get across that I am both those things, but that they are different. Both specialist, in a way. Of all the creative things I do, they are the ones that I am most passionate about.I’ve written an unpublished novel so I won’t be called ‘novelist’ yet.Academics often refer to ‘poets and writers’, I guess cos many poets only write poetry, but it does jar a bit.

  5.  by  Diane Becker

    An interesting debate! I usually call myself a writer and artist (note the order – which reverses when I’m promoting my artwork, and no I’m not bipolar!). The problem came when I joined a poetry workshop. There I introduced myself as writer, artist and ‘closet poet’. Very complicated (definitely not simple!). Like you, I have to be in a very different ‘headspace’ to write poetry. I spent a few months last summer doing it but I wrote little else, now I’m writing fiction again, the poetry’s on pause. So … definitely a writer – one who writes fiction – and poems!

  6.  by  The Dotterel

    Well, speaking as someone who has been describing himself as anything But a writer/author/poet for so long, but has belatedly realised that that description defines him better than any other, I’m tempted to say this is all so much semantics. Putting words on paper is a habit and, for some, a gift; however you describe it, it’s the most defining thing most writers ever do. There ought to be a new word for it!

  7.  by  Diane Becker

    Postscript: by strange quirk of fate just found out first poem I ever submitted anywhere has been accepted by Pygmy Giant (no, it’s not up there yet) – so can I now call myself a poet? Damn it – it’s so hard to decide!!

  8.  by  Nik's Blog

    Wow. Thanks everyone. I’m glad this has resonated with a few people.Tania, I love your strapline, it’s beautifully simple and apt. I know what you mean about the term ‘short story writer’ – maybe just ‘writer’ would be better; we’re not made to keep to any kind of length. We write stories, long, short, tiny, lengthy. Unless you have a better word up your sleeve…? ;)Always a splendid thing to see you here, WRW. You’re completely right. I agree that it’s important to show that they’re both specialist and something you (we/I) care most about. I wonder whether it’s an accuracy thing or emotional, or both.Good to see you agree, Diane – and congrats on the acceptance. Let me know when it’s up.Tim, I’m nodding in agreement here.Douglas, would that not make you a poetic writer of stories? Or a writer of poetic prose? Maybe they’re a bit too specific, eh?Thanks all.Nik

  9.  by  Lane

    I just can’t say it out loud. The nearest I’ve got is to say ‘I do a bit of writing’, mumble mumble. I think it’s because people expect our incomes to define us and as an unpublished ‘writer’, I have nothing to refer them to:-)But ….. I like your strapline very much. Two different disciplines, requiring different attributes and skills. If you were a journalist as well, the same would apply.Thought provoking post Nik.

  10.  by  Nik's Blog

    Ah, the ‘discipline’ word – yes. That makes sense.And I’ll tell you what, if it’s income that defines us then I’m a bit jiggered! And I honestly don’t think you have to justify yourself. If you write, you’re a writer – all the greats were unpublished once. Publication is validation in some people’s eyes but it isn’t everything and any lack of it doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.Nik

  11.  by  Lane

    I didn’t mean how much we earn defines us. Rather, what we do to earn it. And yes, you’re right. But I still avoid answering the question:-)

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