Aspiring Writer: The Sequal

In a post last year, I spoke about the term aspiring writer and how it’s a term that I dislike. Back then, I had this wonderful circular argument about how if you write, then you are a writer — no aspiring about it. Regardless, I still see an insane number of people who insist on calling themselves aspiring writers.

Back when that original post first came out, someone had commented on one of my Facebook discussion groups that the term writer referred to a person who was paid to write.

To be fair, the term applies to people who want to make a career out of writing. Writer is a professional term.

You have no idea how much my skin crawls at this concept. Clearly, my arguments using the definitions in Merrian-Webster were insufficient to get my point across. Perhaps the Oxford English Dictionary might sway the ideas. So here goes.

I’m going to have to paraphrase what is actually written in the Oxford English Dictionary, because there is a full page to the definition of writer. I’m not joking. I own a compact edition — the full 20-volume set printed in microfiche size in one monster of a book. I’ve done the best I can to scan in the pages (struggling in a big way and the arms burning to hold the book up on a small scanning bed), but I’m not sure how legible the print is in the scan.

Scan of Oxford English - Writer Definition

Scan of the pages containing the definition of writer in the Oxford English Dictionary. It starts on the middle column of the middle page shown in this image and continues until half-way down the first column on the page on the right, all top row. (Have you found the magnifying glass yet?)

Excuse me for a moment while I find my magnifying glass…

So… The first definition of writer, and probably the most important is as follows:

A person who can write; one who practises or performs writing; occas., one who writes in a specific manner;

Where in that definition is there any mention of being paid? Perhaps, there is another definition that I’m overlooking. The second definition in the Oxford English Dictionary is as follows:

One whose business or occupation consists of writing; a functionary, officer, etc., who performs clerical or secretarial duties; a scribe, clerk or law-writer.

Okay, looking at that definition, I’m willing to concede that the term writer might be a professional term, however, is there sufficient grounds to limit it as such? What about the third definition in the Oxford English Dictionary?

One who writes, compiles, or produces a literary composition; the composer of a book or treatise; a literary man or author.

That particular definition goes on to say that a writer is one who is writing.

People, this is exactly the definition that I’ve been fighting to get through people’s heads. We take the time, effort, and energy to write something of literary value — we are writing. Hence, we ARE writers.

Please, I beg you, everyone. Stop thinking of yourselves as a person who is aspiring to write. If you are going through the motions of writing, then you are a writer. You might be aspiring to become published, but I would never say aspiring author either, simply because it sounds negative. Writer sounds so much better to me.

No doubt someone else will poke holes in my thoughts and reasoning, throwing that second definition from the Oxford English Dictionary at me. To all those nay-sayers, I have one response:

RASPBERRIES!

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