Friday, March 11, 2011

Paul is a Real Estate Novelist

Posted by Gst Dv Jcksn (experimenting with consonants only)

"Paul is a real estate novelist who never had time for a wife
And he’s talkin’ with Davey who’s still in the Navy and probably will be for life."

(Billy Joel, Piano Man)

True, I’m partial to this tune a little bit because I’m Davey and I did a stint in the maritime branch of the military—even though the hit climbed the charts a good 15 years before I enlisted. But I do have a more profound point. Besides wanting to get drunk and sing along to Bill’s anthem, I’m always captured by the part about the novelist. Like you, I first wonder what the hell a real estate novelist is, but then I zero in on just novelist.

It always rings in my thoughts after hearing the sweet lyrics that you rarely hear the word novelist anymore. I can’t think of one published pal that refers to him or herself as a novelist.

Is it because the term carries a snobby stigma? Is it like proclaiming that you’re Wile E. Coyote…genius? Typically, books still state novel on them somewhere. In fact, that can be quite annoying—a stack of pages wrapped in a cover, bearing a title: “The blankety blank blank…a novel.” Well of course it’s a novel, did they think we’d confuse it with a toilet plunger? So if the work goes out of its way to remind us that it’s a novel, why wouldn’t the proud parent tout this profession on business cards?

Often times, we hear the occupational label of writer. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Paperback Writer. This is only okay if we agree that it’s acceptable to also refer to a pianist as a key puncher. EVERYBODY writes. Look at the guy next to you in the grocery store, he’s writing on his phone (albeit in undecipherable code to the 40 and over crowd) while buying diapers. Saying that we’re merely writers is like calling an athlete a breather. Of course she’s breathing while sweating out the 10k marathon, but she’s doing way more than just that.

So are we.

Novelists must be storytellers, grammarians, investors, students, entertainers, cool word choosers, self disciplinarians, money managers, computer techs, publicists, and of course…writers. And this probably isn’t even the entire list.

I’ve probably punched enough keys to rouse your thoughts. I’m going to go back to just breathing for a while.


Joanne Kennedy said...

It's always interesting to see how writers refer to themselves - "I'm a writer," "I'm a novelist," "I'm an author," "I'm a hack who's willing to sell my soul in exchange for publication." I'm not sure there's an official differentiation, but I always figured we're all writers, and we're authors once we're published in book form. To me, being a novelist means you've really mastered the craft. I want to be a novelist when I grow up!

Kenney Mencher said...

I think that what makes you who you are is if you actually do it. Do it do do it. I meet so many people who say they wish they had time for __________. I think it's great that the internet has given so many of us a chance to share what we write and do without having to get a publisher!

Joanne Kennedy said...

I agree, Kenney, and it lets us form communities of writers who can share ideas - like this one!

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