Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Are you a writer or a wordsmith?

Today at The Kenyon Review, Meg Galipault says:

I hate the word “wordsmith.” When I hear it, I immediately think, “Cheesy.” I imagine a New Age-y guy wearing a blacksmith’s smock, holding a feather pen [aka, “quill”]. Why isn’t “writer” a sufficient title? It’s mysterious and provocative all on its own. Why the compulsion to dress it up, make it cute, trot it out on a business card?

A writer is someone who writes. If you just started, or if you've been doing this for years, the term still fits. If you're J.K. Rowling or J.K. Nobody, ditto. It doesn't matter if you write full time or part time. It doesn't matter if you're published or unpublished. If you write, then you are a writer.

When I hear a writer call herself a wordsmith, I assume she's more interested in being admired by the world than she is in communicating with the world. And I can't respect that.

Yes, all right, it's just a word. But words matter to me because I am a writer.

If any of you have a different feeling about this, have your say in the Comments.


Brenda said...

I hate the word, too!

Pam in Colorado said...

It is nice to be reminded that I am a writer, whether I have written that book I always wanted to. Perhaps my season of being published is yet to come.

Since I am not creating new words (which is what wordsmith makes me think of)but instead, putting down the trusted friends, that words are to me, on paper or in this case a blogger box, I am a writer!

I must check out the usage of commas though. I think I just killed it in the paragraph above! ;)

jason evans said...

I agree that writers are communicators. They link their thoughts and visions with each person who picks up their work. It's a transfer of experiences.

As important as that is, I hate to see it fluffed up further. I cringe a bit with "wordsmith" and "my muse" and "my craft" and the like. Writer is just fine.

Freddie Sirmans said...

Just browsing the internet, your blog is very, very interesting.

Robin Bayne said...

To me, "wordsmith" sounds like someone putting words together for the way they sound.

"Storyteller" is more apt for most romance novelists, IMHO.

Brenda Coulter said...

Thanks, Freddie. I'm glad you stopped by.

Yeah, Jason, all that "muse" stuff drives me nuts. Why do so many writers yammer on about their muses?

Paul said...

Hi Brenda,

I agree, writer is fine!

That is what I am and what I will always be!

Always enjoy visiting "No Rules, Just Write!!

Have a super week,

Writing for the King,


Brenda Coulter said...

You're very kind, Paul. Thanks for stopping by.

Shauna said...

Okay, though I will say it's not my favorite word, I don't hate it. In fact, I think I called someone that once. ;-)

I have a dear friend who just has a way with words. He can create an image so real that it pops. If he was describing the sea, you would swear you were there and could feel the spray. When he talks of sunsets you see the artist's brush paint across the sky. When he talks of his mother, you see the pointy hat and broom.

Anyways, you get the idea. Although a writer is a writer, some tell you a story while others make you live it!

Anonymous said...

I think you reduced the issue. Ultimately a writer should also be a wordsmith. Craft is diligence and determining which words come closest to approximating the purest form of a thought or image. You have taken the word, granted an inelegant and overused one, out of context. I should like to add that many writers benefit from "wordsmiths" who were themselves unable to write.

Brenda Coulter said...

Interesting persepctive. Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous, and for taking the time to comment.