It’s true. I’m not a writer. Oh sure, I put words on a computer program that’s supposed to simulate paper, but as far as putting pen to paper that will be talked about by the graduating English Prose and Poetry class of 2098 at Yale, I’m not a writer.
Writers, the real ones, write poetry, short stories, novels, screenplays, plays and novellas. They can bang out sonnets, odes, ballads, lyrics, essays, haikus, limericks, interviews and articles. They have writing related jobs such as novelists, English professors and educators, journalists, editors and proofreaders that keep them engrossed and connected to the world of writing.
I do have a writing related job, however—as a senior editor at a billion-dollar company. (I just say that to sound more important than I am.)
My title is kind of a joke, really. My grammar skills, or lack thereof, would barely qualify me to judge a 7th-grader’s essay let alone edit a colleague’s work. But here I am, earning a good living, knowing just enough to get by and be a danger to myself and others—particularly to my proofreaders whom I sure I aggravate often. I honestly believe they look my error-filled pieces and think, “Fuck, this asshole knows shit about grammar and structure. And here I am with my degree in English and a minor in Elizabethan poetry proofreading this douchebag’s work. What the fuck am I doing wrong? The world is unfair.”
And they would be right. The world is unfair. They should have my job. Yet somehow I’ve managed to slip by on my minimal and limited language skills and become mildly successful at what I do.
But if I’m not a writer or a senior editor, what is it that I do?
I’m a copywriter. And I can write the fuck out of a headline or an ad or catalog. (In my humble, completely un-arrogant opinion, anyway.)
Yes, I conceptualize and create ads. I write about the features and benefits of products and make them relative and interesting (hopefully, anyway) to an audience. That’s the really, really boring and uninteresting way to describe what I do 8-9 hours a day, five days a week, but that’s what I do. And I love it.
I have no aspirations to write a novel, an ode, a sonnet, a novella or any piece of fiction. I have the attention span of a 3-year old with ADHD for that kind of writing.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I love that kind of writing and I love to write; I always have. I’ve always believed I’m a poor verbal communicator, and writing has been my outlet, my way of communicating with the world. In conversations, I stumble over my words and have trouble connecting thoughts to the point of embarrassment. If I had a talk show, people would tune me out and I’d be off the air faster than a rap station in West Texas.
Funny thing is, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (now that is copy writing), I used to write poetry and short stories. These days, and like I noted earlier, I spend all day writing or reading, so the last thing I want to do is sit down at a computer and fucking write a sonnet or a short story. I have a 3-year old too, and by the time he goes to sleep, I have neither the energy or desire to write. But I write anyway despite my protests; I can’t help it. I’ll go to forums and write; I’ll write in comment sections; or, I’ll just write down whatever do-hickey is floating around taking up valuable space in my brain. (Space that I really, really need.)
So I guess all that makes me a writer. Maybe. Sort of. With several asterisks attached and a medley of legal disclaimers in 6-point type at the bottom.