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Contest Archives Columns Contest Archives Writers Come in Different Types!

Writers Come in Different Types!

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March, 2010 Gold Medal for columns



               I subscribe to an Internet offering called The KellyGram, by a chap named Bob Kelly.  In his latest, he lists the following pronouncements by famous authors on what it takes to be a writer:


It's not a college degree that makes a writer. The great thing is to have a story to tell.

    Polly Adler

You must remember that a writer is a simple-minded person to begin with and go on that basis. He's not a great mind, he's not a great thinker, he's not a great philosopher, he's a storyteller.

    Erskine Caldwell

Tell a story! Don't try to impress your reader with style or vocabulary or neatly turned phrases. Tell the story first!

    Anne McCaffrey

A good writer is basically a story-teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.

    Isaac Bashevis Singer

            I whole-heartedly appreciate these sentiments – even though I am a college graduate, I am a thinker, I am a philosopher, I am a scholar, and I do admire style and vocabulary and neatly turned phrases (though always in service of the point being made, and not as ends in themselves.)  These authors meant that education, in itself, is no guarantee that someone has a gift for writing.  They never meant to imply that education wouldn’t help someone who has. 


Please observe that all of these authors were educated, and they all used vocabulary and phrasing to great effect – so their protestations to the contrary are a sort of poetic license, a literary device.  (Does anybody seriously think that Isaac Bashevis Singer was not a scholar, or that Erskine Caldwell did not have a great mind?)  It’s like the famous Yoga masters who taught at their lives’ ends that we should be our own teachers and Gurus – but each and every one of them spent years in training as students to such Gurus, because only in that way could they acquire the necessary skills.  Sure, great writers can throw away the rules – but they have to learn what the rules are, first. 


However, I thank these authors for pointing-out why I have become, over the years, a writer of essays rather than a writer of short stories.  Since I do have life lessons to teach and philosophical points to make, the essay is the appropriate medium for me.  (By the way, did you notice the pun in my title?  It was intentional.)



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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As a "different type" myself, I enjoyed your interesting breakdown of writers. I must be in there somewhere!? Even if I utilize that "poetic license" to add an exclamation point, plus a question mark, at the end of some of my sentences. Kinda spooky - but I love it! Sets me apart from the intellectuals, & also the nattering naboobs of negativism. However, the jury appears to still be out, as to which are the "hopeless hysterical hypochondriacs of history."
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