I thought you meant a real writer

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I was at an otherwise-forgettable social gathering about forty years ago. I had just completed my fourth book and I was starting to define myself as a writer. That’s how my friend described me when he introduced me to an older woman. She immediately perked up.

“Oh, that’s wonderful,” she gushed. “What are some of the books you’ve written?”

I proudly reeled off the titles, including all-time favorites like Management by Exception for First Line Supervisors. The woman looked disappointed.

“Oh,” she said, “I thought you meant a real writer.”

I can laugh about it today, but back then I was hurt and angry. What did she mean by “real writer” anyway? She meant fiction writer.

The common image of a writer is the fiction writer. Fiction writers are romantic creatures, sensitive artists spinning masterpieces from whole cloth. You won’t be doing that as a business writer.

Business writers do two things. We explain things and we tell true stories to make a point. It’s noble work, but not very romantic. Don’t worry, though.

Get your facts straight. Tell your stories well. Make your points clearly. You’ll never become a “real writer,” but you can make the world a little better.

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Wendy Mason   |   11 Jul 2014   |   Reply

Hi Wally
How I feel for you! I’ve written a couple of novels and now, at last, a business book. And, as you suggest, I found the task quite different but still, in my view, very much real writing and just as noble. The ordering of information and its presentation, in an entertaining way that keeps the reader engaged while communicating what they want to know, requires commitment and real knowledge of the writing craft.
Warm regards