Written by Brendan O’Meara
I was reminded of a scene from the movie Patch Adams. The dialogue escapes me, but it goes a little something like this: Patch didn’t care for the symbols of being a doctor. He didn’t care for the white jacket or to practice medicine in the traditional sense. His love interest, played by Monica Potter, followed him down his path, but she said something to the effect of, “I want that jacket.”
I think it’s these symbols that draw people to professions, the white jacket, the director’s chair, cuff links, Jaguars, chef’s frocks. What of a writer? Steaming coffee? A typewriter? The yellow pad? Writers, but especially the aspiring writer, is more in love with the Hemingway-ian ideal. Writing for a few hours in the morning, then going to the bars, or hunting, or to the bull fights, having affairs, shotgun intimacies.
I follow a lot of writers on Twitter and a lot of writers on Twitter follow me. There are a LOT of people who call themselves writers. Many self publish, some have contracts, but most look to occupy the writer’s space versus gutting it out, as Verlyn Klinkenborg is so apt to say.
When you graduate medical school you’re a doctor. When you graduate law school, you’re a lawyer. When can a writer call itself a writer? Penning a letter? A blog post? An essay? A column? A book? A traditionally published book?
The line is murky. This started as a post on the symbols we strive for. I think mine is my reporter notebooks and voice recorder. These are my fishing nets, how I gather information, my symbols.