Confluence

A literary magazine celebrating the confluence of thoughts, emotions, and words.

What Makes a Writer a "Writer?"

Foreward by Lauren Smith

Defining “writer” used to easy. It was simply someone who wrote and then had his or her work published. Or rather, someone who didn’t hold a conventional job, wrote, and then died unappreciated in his or her lifetime after years of living in poverty. That’s the age-old stereotype and the standard that Herman Melville and Walt Whitman left behind. However, we live today in a culture where writing and artistic abilities are celebrated. You can go to school to “be a writer”. You can self-publish. You can blog. You can write on walls or napkins or to publishers until you are discovered. The definition of writer has changed right alongside us, evolved into something as violently changing as a wild animal. So it leaves us to wonder, what exactly is a “writer”?

If I had a dollar for every time someone has introduced me as a writer I would have half my student loans paid off by now. The reason people do this is simple: I have a creative writing degree and I’ve managed to have a few stories and poems. However, I’m always uncomfortable when I’m introduced that way. It took me years to understand that the discomfort came from myself, from my opinion of what a writer is, and my frank opinion that I was not yet one. What I have learned in the past few years is that there are many forms of writers and the art is not one to be easily labeled or harnessed. If you will, writing is that wild horse that will not be tamed or owned.

There are bloggers, columnists, free-lancers, professors and young dreamers at work right now as I type this trying to leave behind written words of their own. Those people probably have very little in common with each other on a personal or professional level but they are all writers. The kid under the bridge shaking a spray can and embossing his words across the concrete trestles is also a writer. Some do it for money and some do it because they are driven to but the result is always the same: the offering of words.

So in that vein, let’s ask why.

The prolific Lorrie Moore believes, a writer is someone who is born that way. It’s in us, we have no choice.

William Faulkner advised, “Don’t ‘be a writer’. Be writing.”

Virginia Woolf declared that language was like wine upon the tongue.

The contributors to this magazine find no fault with these opinions. In fact, we are offering our own words to you in the pages that follow because we believe in the transference of stories. We are not handing you the definition of what it means to be a writer because we do not believe in limiting vision. Instead, we are handing you our words and asking you to come along with sentence you read.

In This Month's Issue

In "Our Youth Today," Clayton Wilson explores the similarities and differences that span generations.

"The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy" is Amy Freeman Kalb's account of redefining herself, as only a third-grader can.

Jordan Gilliand discusses the question of what makes a hero - a timely, topical exploration of a definition.

Lauren Smith explores loss in this deeply personal narrative.

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