September 14, 2012 by palamow
BITS and PIECES
I hope to make Bits and Pieces a regularly scheduled ‘blog’ entry – ‘hope’ being the operative word here – encroaching age and related languor, coupled with a rigorous commitment to the two new books I am furiously writing/editing/head-scratching/re-writing/re-editing/polishing – and so on – you get the idea – which may combine to limit the frequency of my entries – let’s see how that plays out…
Nevertheless, with that caveat firmly in place, I present my first clumsy attempt at what will, with the mercy of divine providence, eventually evolve into a series of cogent descriptions of my thoughts on a varied palette of whimsical and serious subjects – ones that interest me – and possibly even you, the reader…
So, here is attempt # 1:
I usually attempt to write at my laptop computer for five or so hours each morning, starting at around six o’clock. I began this practice a a few years ago while writing interpretive natural history essays for our local El Yunque rainforest.
Recently, I began to wonder what precise title would best describe what I do. When asked, I frequently mumble something about a project I am working on – I am uncomfortable with most of the terms that are used to describe what I do – I cobble together magazine articles, and natural history books about rainforest ecology as well as collections of personal memories; I frequently concoct what is euphemistically referred to as “web-content” by computer “geeks” who don’t write, but who can make websites function properly. In this context, I am known by the unglamorous title of ‘content provider’. I have written opinion pieces for local and continental newspapers, stories for magazines (a few have actually been printed) and I have amassed and pubished a book ‘Snapshots from the Road’, that interleaves my favorite recipes with stories I have jotted-down about where I was and what I was doing when I first encountered them.
Regardless, I am still somewhat unsure of how to reply when I am asked “what is it that you do for a living.”
Since I’m now closing-in rapidly on my eightieth year, I am no longer required, nor is it my intention to ‘make a living’. However, as a late bloomer in the business of word manufacture, I find myself constantly driven to write, in part because I find it to be a very pleasant pastime, but also because I sense that I don’t have that many more years left to me in which to do so. Thus, I feel somewhat justified (if less humble) as I scurry to get my thoughts down on paper or saved on my computer’s hard-disk.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines some of the inhabitants of my chosen field as follows:
Writ-er: n., one who writes books, stories or articles professionally.
Au-thor: n., a writer, usually;
- The writer of a book, article or other text.
- One who practices writing as a profession.
(from latin; Auctor-Creator.)
Con-trib-u-tor: n., A writer whose work is published in a newspaper, or as part of a book.
Jour-nal-ist: n., A writer for newspapers or magazines.
Pam-phlet-eer: n., A writer of pamphlets.
Word-smith: n., A fluent and prolific writer.
Rac-on-teur: n., One who writes or tells stories or anecdotes with wit and skill.
Re-port-er: n., A writer, investigator or presenter of news stories.
Applying those definitions loosely, I suppose I could qualify as either a ‘writer’ or an ‘author’, although the term ‘author’ has always seemed to apply an unwarranted pomposity to what I do. Both contributor and journalist seem a better fit, but then, on some occasions so does pamphleteer.
I like the rustic sound of ‘word-smith’, but I would never describe myself as a ‘fluent and prolific writer’. My father was a world-class ‘raconteur’, and I have strived with limited success to emulate his skills since childhood, so I’m comfortable with that description, although it is seldom used these days.
I am most certainly not a ‘reporter’ either by training or desire.
So I suppose I will say I’m a ‘writer’ the next time I’m asked what I do – that is until I come across a more apt (and less presumptuous) title.
Playa Azul, Luquillo