Author stereotypes and other strangeness…


Interestingly today alone, I have come across five writers, all in various stages of creation of their particular brand of brainbarf, but each of them work within the IT industry. Sure, there are plenty of different people writing, but it got me to thinking about the types of people that tend to want to become writers. I know of another two or three people personally who are also in the IT field and want to become a published author, so is this some consipracy theory? Are the radiation or magnetic fields coming out of our computers and screens and servers melting our brains in such a way that we, who brave the IT Industry are compelled to want to write?

It’s an interesting concept, one – I admit – that is probably not fully formed as I type this, but an intriguing one nonetheless. It makes me stop and ponder, eyeing critically those who sit around me at work wondering if they too have crazy characters running rampant around in their brains dictating to them what and how to write, or if it’s just me.

When delving deeper in to that thought, what makes someone want to write, I kind of come up blank. I don’t know what urges me to write. I just want to.

I love the English language, I enjoy expressing myself through the written word, but why am I pushing to publish the brainbarf that I come up with? It’s certainly not for fame or money. We all know that the chances of instant stardom in the writing industry is less likely than winning the jackpot at lotto, so why do we do it? Is it a personality trait? A desire to have our thoughts and creations read and analysed by others? Is it just a happy coicidence that all these technical minded people have engorged creative sides that demand attention? Or perhaps some cosmic force that is guiding us?

I’m not qualified in the field of psychology, unless a couple of short courses in college (Yrs 11 and 12) count, but I wonder if the IT industry looks for or draws to it people who possess the same types of skills. When I look around, I see a myriad of different people, when I meet other IT people, I don’t see them juggling their self-published books ready to hand out copies to anyone who would listen. So, have I just stumbled across a happy coincidence? Perhaps.

Thinking for a minute here on stereotypes, when you mentally picture an IT nerd do you come up with something like this, a lot of people will:

nerd

Kinda creepy nerd!
Credit: http://flic.kr/p/afQpJy

But, what does a stereotypical author look like? Are they the airbrushed sleekness of the high flyers (just look at Stephanie Meyer or J.K Rowling’s mug shot for the inside cover of their books for examples of this) or is it closer to that of the nerd? Is there one at all? Do you see authors and book nerds in the same light? When you think about it, authors and writers are readers first, right? So are authors and book nerds the same people? Do they or can they have the same stereotypes applied to them?

nerdquirks

I still have nightmares about this…
Source: http://www.nerdquirks.tumblr.com

In my search for clarification on this, I headed to the font of knowledge that is Google (typical IT nerd I know!). After a bit of research online, I have seen that a writer is described as being someone who has written a particular text, or a person who writes books, stories or articles as a job or a regular occupation. While being an author gives you the heady claims of creation of the idea, plot, or content of a written piece of work. Interestingly another suggested distinction between the two is that while you can be both a writer and an author (sometimes of the same piece of work), to be considered an author you must have your work published. If you never have your work published, you remain a writer. Do you agree with this definition?

I don’t believe there is one solid answer for this question, that it in fact has many, many different shades of grey answers (no – not fifty either!) Ack. A book reference. I must be a book nerd!

Now I can’t speak for all writers, all authors, IT people or book nerds, but I happen to think I am a sum of all of them (well the authordom will come soon!!) I don’t fit into any one of those stereotypes comfortably. I like to think that I make my own little bubble that only I can fit into. I forged this bubble just like I do my written work, I pour my past experiences, my lifetimes worth of learning, my beliefs and dreams into it and it evolves daily. Constantly pushing forward into the future me that I will become.

Nebula

Let’s shoot for the stars
Source: http://flic.kr/p/8xzh6t

Do you fit any of the common stereotypes thrown about today? Have you located any strange coincidences about certain types of people or types of jobs attracting people with the same traits? What are your thoughts on the difference between being a writer and an author? Share them below and feel free to let your inner nerd show.

nerd2

Get your nerd on!
Credit: http://flic.kr/p/8xzh6t

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16 thoughts on “Author stereotypes and other strangeness…

  1. I’m gonna join this group….hand grab, clinch, snap. That’s our handshake. lol
    I think an author could also (added to all the shades of definitions previously noted) be someone who writes a novel but keeps it under their bed, guarding it with their life. Does the fact that they don’t share the book affect whether or not they are an author?

  2. I thought all writers these days were beautiful blonde women.

  3. I like the secret handshake idea!

  4. I have worked as a business analyst, so I could be seen as creative IT if you were looking for evidence; however, I have also worked in law for many years so you could submit that it was drafting documents and crafting cases that drew out my fiction.

    One possible stereotype I do definitely fit is that of fantasy gamer: I roleplay, I wargame, I play RP computer games. I believe this had a strong influence on me not writing prose for years. The portion of storytelling in each of these acted as a valve for the part of me that likes exploring what ifs.

    I am not sure about the difference between author and writer: it seems perfectly valid to say that an author is the person who wrote a work. Also, some of my poetry has been published, but it does not seem valid to say I am an author because of that. Maybe it is not actually publishing but external categorisation that make an author: you need to have someone else see your prose work without you directly showing it to them.

    • I’ve worked with lawyers before Dave, I can’t say that I knew of any of them who were into writing creatively, but then I was only the EA at the time, not really on friendship terms with them, or having them share their dreams and passions with me. They could all have been closet authors in the making 🙂

      I love a good RPG on the computer. I thoroughly enjoy the Diablo and Starcraft games 😀

      I’m still working on getting stuff published, but I’m well on my way 😀 I have a few things pending with a couple of publications here, so am I an author-in-waiting?! haha!

      I like your definition of author… in that way, what I have up on my GR writing page has been viewed by unsolicited people, does that make me an author? Seems a little too easy?! Or are we talking traditional ‘dead-tree-books’ here? Perhaps a happy medium, both dead-tree-books and ebooks, but not online content? It’s various shades of grey I thing… and again, not the grey variety! 😉

      • I coincidentally e-bumped into a former colleague I was unaware wrote during NaNoWriMo last year; their bio showed several years of completion, so it might be that lawyers tend to not mention creative writing at work.

        I am not sure about whether people looking at work you put up yourself makes you an author. Michel Foucault differentiates between writers and authors based on significance: a writer puts words together so can apply to many, whereas an author is a writer who is part of the whole work; for example, JK Rowling is an author because some people will read The Casual Vacancy not because they are drawn in by the blurb but rather because she wrote Harry Potter. Using that definition of not showing the work to them, you are an author if people come to your GR page to read because they (or a friend, &c.) have previously given value to your work.

  5. I’ve yet to meet an IT person who is a writer (but I do lead a sheltered life!) 😉

    I write because if I don’t get the words from my head onto paper I feel as if my brain will explode – sorry, that’s the only reason I can think of! 😀

  6. Guilty as charged. Work in IT and a writer! I always think of authors as being high-brow; The people who write worthy and heavy books with deep themes. Me, I’m just a storyteller, a humble scrivener.

    One of the kicks I get out of IT is the same kick I get out of writing: Problem solving. Back my characters into a corner and then think of a way to get them out of there.

    Am I a stereotype? Love Sci-Fi (tick), love computers and tech (tick). Glasses. Tick. I have better wallpaper than Our Main Suspect in Pic 1 though (I hate to think what his internet history looks like…), and less facial hair than number two.

    Most of the time, anyway.

    • Welcome to the clan Tony! Seems we are just two of a rapidly growing bunch I am discovering!

      Are there many self-published, still to be published or traditionally published authors working with you too? I have three people I work with who all have book ideas, yet none of them are as far along the path as me…

      Book nerds, IT nerds and authors unite! Hehe! We should get some special ring or a secret handshake or something!

      • The only other writers I know physically (rather then virtually) of are all in my writing group, so it’s not really a representative sample ;-). However, they are all librarians, which seem to be another subset…

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