That might explain why when I went away to college I had the crazy idea that I was going to be a pilot. For two semesters, I flew Cessnas before I realized that this was a career path that was never going to get off the ground. Four years later I stumbled into a master's program in journalism at the University of Illinois at Champaign. That's where, at the ripe age of 22, I found writing. Or maybe it found me. I suppose I always knew that I was a writer. There is something that
ENG4U – English Unit 3 – Lesson 11 distinguishes writers from non-writers. When you're a writer you can't not write. There are words in your head that always seem to be pushing and shoving their way out. That explains why in the middle of the night when you're awakened by your son's cries, you go to his bed and rub his back until he falls back to sleep. And then, rather than going back to sleep yourself, you make your way into the office next door, grab a notepad and pen and write down all the thoughts that came into your head during the hour you spent comforting your son. Only after all the words have come out are you able to go back to your bed and sleep. The next morning all those thoughts that you had in the middle of the night become all the words that you just read. How to Tell You Are a Literary Snob David Leonhardt "I don't know if I should put 'writer' on my business card," I murmured. "Then don't," my wife said in her infinite wisdom. "Put 'author' on it." "But if I put 'author' on, none of those big companies with overflowing coffers will want to hire me as a writer," I said, wondering if George Bush needed a speechwriter or if General Motors wanted someone to write the owner's manual for next year's Oldsmobile. "Fine. Put 'writer' on your card then, and all those fancy people you give it to will know you can write for them." "But writer looks so small," I pointed out. "I also want Fortune 500 companies to hire me as a speaker, and nobody important hires a writer to speak. They hire authors." "OK, why don't you put both?" she offered. "Ho, right. That'll impress them. A writer who can't even write his own business card without duplicating his redundancies," I said. "I might as well shoot myself with my own sword." "Why don't you just put 'Happiness and self-actualization'?" she suggested. "You write about happiness. You speak about happiness. Let them figure it out." In the end, I put "author", figuring I would get most writing jobs over the Internet, but when I speak live I would have to hand out cards to lots of people. An author's autograph would make those people giddy as strawberry Jell-O on the Amtrak Express. Those same people would search nervously for a graceful retreat from the company of a mere writer. What is it about being an author? You can author an article or a report or just about anything. And you can be the author of just about anything (including "your own misfortunes"). But you can't be "an author - period" unless you've published a book.
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