Tag Archives: identity

Writing Is More Than Writing

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, www.SeventhSanctum.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)

Earlier I’d discussed, with inspiration from my friend Serdar, about how writers are both compelled but also need to figure what to do with their writing to be happy.  Writing is an inclination – doing something with it lets it become more.

That’s really being a Writer, even if its not the kind of writer someone thinks you should be.  If someone thinks you should do more than Team Fortress 2 Slashfic and you’re happy, fine.  That’s what you do and it’s doing what you want.

But I’d be remiss in not addressing something else for writers. Namely that like any path, any career, anything you pursue, a larger amount of the path you follow isn’t what you think it is.

Writing Is More Than Writing

So a big part of writing is being read.  If for some reason you’re writing with the intention of no one ever seeing it (say journaling or something) then this part doesn’t really apply.  Otherwise I assume part of the writing drive is for someone to experience it at some point.

This means that to be a writer . . .you have to do more than write.

  • A good writer a the very least is a half-decent editor if only to make their work coherent enough for a real editor to understand it.
  • A good writer is a project manager so they can write on time and to a needed deadline (if only self-imposed)
  • A good writer can recognize their need to improve and implement it.

These are things t the very least you have to do.  But if you’re truly looking to be read there’s more.

  • A writer may need to be a marketer.
  • A writer may need to be enough of a businessperson to hire a marketer.
  • A writer may need to be enough of a psychologist to recognize what they can’t do – from an editor to a marketer to a personal aide.
  • A good writer is someone who develops the skills to support their writing.

So being a writer is also about being more than a writer so you can do whatever you want with your writing – even if it’s having someone else help out.

So if you want to be a writer – your kind of writer, whatever that is – you have to figure out what else you have to be good at.  Otherwise your being a “writer” is words that won’t go anywhere.

What do you have to be?  Editor?  Marketer?  Publicity agent?  Scientist?  What else do you have to be to be  a Writer?

  • Steven

 

Why We Write, Why We Wrong

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, www.SeventhSanctum.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)

Over at his blog my friend Serdar talked about why people write. Some people, he notes, want all the benefits and the aura of being a writer . . . except they’re not too up on the “writing” part of it. To be a writer, you have to write.

And Serdar, like Brad at Hardcore Zen, and like myself note it’s a kind of compulsion.

I write because it’s something I do. I craft words, tell stories, organize information. I’m not exactly sure why – these are traits all humans have, for me and others its just pronounced. We do it more often than they do. It’s who we are.

Now you have to work on it, as Serdar notes, something not everyone else does. Me, I self-publish a lot of stuff, I’ve yet to “hit it big,” I may never do so. But that’s not my goal.

And that’s the crux of being a writer – it’s something you do, but you also apply yourself to figure what you can and should do with it. That’s where many, many writer’s break down.

Because here’s the rub – writing is not just writing nor is it just improving it – it’s knowing what the hell to do with it to reach your goals. Write all you want, but if you want to do something with it you have to ask just what your goals are.

I’ve met many people who want to write, but they want to write under highly specific conditions. They want to be a writer and be paid – but in this genre and at this pay rate and so on. No, if you want to be paid as a writer you write, and that leads you to either A) write whatever pays the bils, or B) work your butt off on your focus to become very, very good (depending what “good” is).

I’ve met people who write but for fun and occasionally wonder what more they “should” do – when maybe all you want to do is write fanfic and that’s perfectly OK. That’s good, that’s fine.

Or there’s me, who likes writing, likes helping people and cataloging knowledge, and does it as a kind of hobby that occasionally makes money. It’s a skill I like using and would like to use more, so I’m gladly learning and seeing what more I can do with it.

But that’s my schtick.

So if you want to write figure your goals and go and channel that writing into succeeding. But if you don’t do something with it, you’re never going to get much done.

  • Steve

Straight White Male

This is the blog post that has been months in coming. Not because it’s good, but because I kept finding other things to write, and because I kept rephrasing it.

What got it to finally be written was watching people freak out over a black actress playing Herminonie Granger in a play of Harry Potter. If you haven’t heard of this, yes, really. When even J.K. Rowling chimed in that Herminoie didn’t have to be white it didn’t seem to help.

Really, people are offended at a character form whom her racial background does not have to be white are angry she’s white? I mean, really, why?

I also see this with gender in culture – the latest being people calling Rey, the heroine of Star Wars: The Force Awakens a Mary Sue (which has come to mean “female character as outrageously competent as male heroes, but she’s female so it bugs us.”). Or annoyance when a male character is gay. Or . . . the usual.

Most of this seems to come from Straight White Guys. Being a Straight White Guy I have to wonder what the hell is going on.

A character being white or nonwhite probably doesn’t impact me – as long as it makes sense (remind me to post sometime of why Clark Kent should or could be Hispanic). Gender doesn’t really matter as long as people avoid annoing tropes. And gay or straight? Are we still worrying about that? I mean I’m pretty straight, but hey, Chris Evans . .

I mean seriously, damn.

I mean seriously, damn.

Anyway, Chris Evans’ pecs aside, I try to understand just how Straight White Male becomes something people are so invested in – and thus it’s so easily challenged by anytthing. Between Lady Thor and a Black Stormtrooper in Star Wars it seems there’s always some people ready to freak out about something not being right, or white, or having the requisite number of penises.

The thing is . . . I just don’t get it.  I mean I can guess, but there’s not a lot of “there” there.

I’ve wondered why, and I think it comes down to that my identities were never totally along racial, gender, and sexual preference lines. They were constrained by those. My experiences were affected – I mean I’m a straight white guy who looks like Hugh Beaumont, I’m privlieged as hell.

Hugh, my brother in conventionality. See, I’m 1950’s sitcom character.

But freaking out over John Boyega or whatever?  Not doing it.

The truth is I may be a Straight White Dude but my identity is not constructed about this nor dependent on it.  I am a geek, a coder, a writer, a thinker, a cook, and I see no reason to assume that looking like me and having the same sexual preference I do means we’re that alike.  In fact it seems the people who are big on being Straight White Guys live in a kind of prison of the mind.

In the end, I think a few things helped me:

  • I had a lot of strong role models that weren’t straight white males – mostly straight white women, but still.
  • I took an interest in religion and ethics early on. Though I went through many “phases” it got me thinking and expanded my horizons.
  • I was a geek, and I identified strongly with that. Common interests were more important than common skin.
  •  As a geek, and as a person that liked to stay aware, I was aware of the impact bias had.
  • I grew up in the 70’s with shows like “Star Trek” and even “The Jeffersons” that confronted social and racial issues. Come to think of it a lot of shows I enjoyed had multiethnic casts.
  • As a geek in the 70’s I believed in A Better Future.

I know I’m not free of bias, bigotry, or the affects of Extremely White Dude Privilege (see my above Beaumontness). I’m glad for the friends and family who point out when tse affect me (and they do). But I’m also damned glad my experiences and the people I know mean that I don’t go ballistic because Idris Elba may play James Bond.

I wish I better understood how to get other Straight White Guys to lighten up about things like that. The world’s much more fun when it’s diverse and you’re not some false default you can never live up to.

  • Steven Savage