People, especially avid readers, often want to know something about the lives of writers. Not only how or why we write books but all about our other life. The one we manage to find in the scant few hours a day we don’t either write or work our day job. Thankfully, my day job is over. Retirement has its perks, while growing old isn’t necessarily comfortable. So here’s something this writer recently learned after almost thirty years of putting words on the pages of books. Some things we’re expected to do away from the keyboard can actually be fun. Thankfully, most of us manage to ignore dusting and vacuuming.
Saturday I sat on a panel at the Fayetteville Public Library with three people, only one of whom was a writer like myself. We were expected to discuss how food culture affects a society, how it illustrates who we are. Of course, I approached the subject from my own experiences living in the Ozarks and interviewing and writing about others and their life styles. Food always came up, in one way or another. On the panel we were expected to talk and discuss and answer questions on this subject for an hour. I think I held my own. I was told I amused one of the panelists, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
A few weeks ago I recorded a podcast for Framing, a presentation of Oghma Creative Media. I answered multiple questions about my latest books, how and why I came to write them and who I am as a person and a writer. It was mind blowing to hear some of the words that came out of my mouth. Did I just say that? Thank goodness for editing.
Several years ago I was the subject of a documentary that was shown at the Ozark Film
Festival. For many hours I was interviewed, and followed around while I held my own interviews. We discussed so many experiences I couldn’t possibly remember them all now. As with the Internet, that documentary will remain forever available for viewing. That person on the screen no longer looks like she did then, and perhaps she might have said things she would never repeat today. But it was a wonderful, fabulous experience. Attending the Film Festival as their guest and watching myself on a huge screen was a humbling experience and taught me a lot about presenting myself in public.
Writers have to learn, sooner or later, that they cannot shut themselves away in a garret and create their precious books. Not in today’s society. We have to get out and amuse and
entertain and teach, and not only about writing but about the other things we know. Over the years of researching for our books, we must have learned a lot about many subjects. Now, we are expected to share our knowledge on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube and Google Plus, to mention only a few.
So I’ve been trying to think up another word to tell what it is we as writers do for a living, or try to make a living at, if that suits you better. A man who sells shoes is a shoe salesman, a person who sells property is a real estate agent, so I’m thinking we writers need a two or three word string of nouns that tells what we do. Explains our career, if you will. We create, write, speak, amuse, entertain, teach and interact socially. If we can’t do all these things, we cannot sell what we create and write down.
Perhaps we need an Acronym. I’m thinking CWSP for Creator, Writer, Speaker, Promoter, but that seems so blah. A truly good acronym spells something. If we substitute Author for writer, then we have a vowel to work with, which helps. PACS is a possibility, but that puts promoter before author. I don’t like that. CAPS comes the closest to something workable. Then we are Creator, Author, Promoter and Speaker. But to go around saying I’m a CAPS might make people look at us like we’d lost our marbles.
Oh, well. I know when I tell someone I’m a Writer, they probably get the drift of all the jobs that includes. We are truly Writers as well as Authors, for we write our books and we are the author of those books. The other stuff is icing on the cake. Enjoy, and the next time you meet a writer, shake their hand and nod sagely. That lets them know you understand what it is they really do.