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Old 06-12-2004, 07:24 PM   #1
Boobsie Malone
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Default "Writer" v. "Aspiring Writer"

I've been advised to introduce myself as a "Writer" rather than the apologetic "I'm *trying* to be a writer." or "I'm an aspiring writer."

But I've found, more often than not, when I have the confidence to say "I'm a writer," the next question posed to me is "Really? Have you written anything I might have heard of?"

That's where I sort of mumble about the specs I've written for various shows and admit that I'm an aspiring.

So, really, I find it much easier to just say: "I'm an aspiring writer."

I know we had a big long thread about this about two years ago. And two years ago, I believed that we aspirings should always state that we are, in fact, aspirings. Yet, I'm getting this advice from people whom I respect a great deal.

So, what say the masses?
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Old 06-12-2004, 07:42 PM   #2
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I tell civilians that I'm a "repped but unsold writer". Which of course means absolutely nothing and that I'm still broke... But the "title" is so confusing to them, they mostly don't want to bother figuring out what it means, so they back off with the questions. And besides, it's just too difficult to explain everything.

Thank god I don't live in L.A. :lol

But ultimately, we are writers. We write. F%&! a bunch a of questions. You're a writer. You don't aspire to write every day. I mean, you write. There you go.
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Old 06-12-2004, 07:47 PM   #3
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Default ...

well you either write or you don't... an aspiring writer is someone who aspires to one day begin writing. usually they don't.

i aspire to be a successful writer, one who writes every day and loves it, but imho as long as i am writing then i am a writer.

I too get the "Really? Have you written anything I might have heard of?" comment. I tend to reply with "Not yet" and a smile.

It is tough for writers to be confident about their own work, mainly because they are aware of the staggering amount of people out there trying to write. There are always moments of doubt where you debate whether you may infact be one of those delusional people who thinks that their work is great when in fact it is not. But hell as long as you are actually writing, putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, then you are a writer. The process of writing is more than what 90% of aspiring writers actually do.

Selling something or being published is really the icing on the cake. But just as a cake without icing is still a cake, a writer without a sale is still a writer. (how's that for the worst piece of imagery of the year? lol)
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Old 06-12-2004, 07:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: ...

Maybe it's just me, but I've found it's easiest like this:

Them: What do you do?

Me: I'm a writer.

Them: Really? Anything I've heard of?

Me: Yes. Star Wars.

And just leave it at that.

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Old 06-12-2004, 08:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: ...

For me, it depends.


JOE: What do you do?
ME: I'm a failed writer.
JOE: Oh, I see. Hope things look up for you.
ME: Yeah...


JOE: What do you do?
ME: What do we all do? Write screenplays.
JOE: Yeah, tell me about it.
ME: Okay. It's like this. Back...
JOE: Whoa, whoa... That's a figure of expression. I don't want to know about your screenplays.


JOSEPHINE: What do you do?
ME: I'm a screenwriter.
JOSEPHINE: Cool. Anything I might've seen?
ME: Well, I have a deal with a Sony producer and I am at ICM.
JOSEPHINE: That's so cool.
ME: Yeah. Isn't it?
JOSEPHINE: Yeah, my boyfriend's got a three pic deal at Sony and he's repped by CAA.
ME: Um... I'm gonna go get a soda.


AGENT: What are you doing?
ME: I'm a screenwriter.
AGENT: Not yet, you're not.

Okay, I made all this up. I don't know why I lie to you folks. I feel like I've earned your trust and I abuse it. Sorry.
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Old 06-12-2004, 08:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: ...

Well I had never really thought about it. I think I'm going to drop the "aspiring" all together, you're right - it comes off apologetic. I feel stronger just thinking it.

I'm a big one for speaking positive words to create positive events, so from now on I'm a "writer".

And if someone asks me if I've done anything they might have heard of I'll employ a cheeky "not yet".
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Old 06-12-2004, 08:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: ...

Hmm... Cheeky. Nothing wrong with a writer showin a little cheek.
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Old 06-12-2004, 08:44 PM   #8
William Haskins
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Default Re: ...

not trying to be snarky, but my honest opinion is that it matters far less how you identify yourself to others then how you see yourself. if your self-identity, past a certain age, is an aspiring anything, you take on something of a walter mitty air.

unless there are professional ramifications to the conversation, i usually avoid the whole mess by just saying i'm on parole and i'm trying hard to get that whole "voices in my head" thing together.
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Old 06-12-2004, 09:09 PM   #9
T Ziegler
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Default Re: ...

I've wrestled with this one, but for a more specific reason --

If I just want to identify myself as a writer, I have no problem saying "I'm a writer." I am; I write stuff. Published or produced doesn't come into it for me with that title. I'll probably need to explain it further, but it's certainly not inaccurate or inflated.

My issue comes in that, in industry contexts, I like to identify my career interest in television writing specifically. (Not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that everyone assumes all writers in Hollywood want to write films.) However, no matter how I try, I simply can't bring myself to say "I'm a television writer." It's undeniably misleading, and the understandable follow-up question ("oh, what show do you write for?") is an even worse one to have to answer:

"Uh, right now I'm writing for 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.' But they don't know it, I'm not getting paid for it, and my episode will never air."

In other circles, that's known as a delusion, and there are medications for it.

So, yeah, I usually say "I'm an aspiring television writer."

We put so much emphasis, when we meet someone, on "what do you do?" and it's a question that rarely has a simple answer. But that's part of the point, isn't it? Isn't the question really a conversation STARTER? Wouldn't we expect that most people will, regardless of how we answer, ask follow-up questions? I find that I almost always have to ask people more questions after the initial "what do you do?" And it's usually interesting to learn more about their job and/or career, how and why they got into it, etc. And quite often, not what I would have expected.

So, my conclusion is -- I don't worry about it too much. Aspiring isn't a bad word, and doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of self-esteem (although I agree it can sound hesitant and overly-noncommittal). Perhaps we should all use the word we like to bandy about on this board: "Pre-professional." I would really like to see someone's reaction when I tell them "I'm a pre-professional one-hour episodic television writer." ("And I'll have a half-caff with a twist of lemon.")

Wondering idly if only writers fret this much over getting just right the wording of their job description,

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Old 06-12-2004, 09:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: ...

Wondering idly if only writers fret this much over getting just right the wording of their job description
No doubt, TZ. Wordings R Us.
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