Friday, July 08, 2005
More on 'Wannabes'
Cat's know nothing about gravity....
This is in answer to the comment on my post about wannabes a few days ago.
It doesn't bother me that he's put up the link to this blog because people will make up their own minds after reading both sides. In fact, I would rather people are able to look from his blog posts to mine in something related like this so that they can see both sides of the issue. I find the circle of communications that goes on over blogs and such rather fascinating, in fact, and I never expect accord. I'm sure there are a number of people who agree with him. That's not going to change the definitions that I found, or the way in which his use of the term provoked some people at FM.
But on this subject of 'wannabes' and definitions, I find it interesting to see someone deny common usage of a term as though we all live and speak strictly by Webster's dictionary. Last time I checked, English wasn't a dead language; it is still evolving and meanings change with the times. I find it very strange to see a writer ignoring the way in which a term -- when applied to others -- can be taken as an insult, as though he doesn't want to understand how language works. No number of dictionary definitions will change that reaction.
Writers should always be open to learning about language and how it is used in dialogue. Living by the dictionary and grammar books isn't always the right answer.
Being part of a large group of writers, I think I'm probably more aware of how different people interpret words than he is. I had the impression -- and this might be wrong -- that he's had this kind of trouble with written communications elsewhere on the Internet, and it might just be an inability to look outside his own definitions and decisions. Almost everyone I know has had some problem with misunderstood posts at one time or another, but most of us are willing to admit that we did not explain things clearly.
However, as I've said from the start, it's not going to matter what a person calls himself. In fact, the only real point of contention over 'wannabe' in my side came when he used the term at FM. A few of the members took exception -- especially when the statement was made in such a general way that it included people who are not 'wannabes' by anyone's definition. But, again, he pointed out to us that the fault was not in the original statement but in our interpretation of it.
Isn't that communications? Isn't the person making the statement the one charged with being certain the people on the other end will clearly understand what he's saying? And if the communications is not understood by a number of people, then the fault has to be in the communications.
Personally, I'd rather err on the side of politeness when addressing others who are working at becoming published writers. I do use the term to describe those people who occasionally wander into FM looking for someone to write up their great ideas for them. Those are the wannabes in my book -- the ones who want their names on the covers, but don't want to do the work. They'll sometimes talk about the great idea they have, which almost inevitably turns out to be some sort of clone of whatever happens to be the most popular movie or TV show at the time.
So there it is. We all make mistakes in communications and most of us admit to our part in the misunderstanding and try to clarify. Most of us are aware of how language changes and adapts to the times, and how the use of that language can affect others.
Most of us also use terms for ourselves that we would not apply to others, because we have our own definitions or humorous responses to those terms. What we say of ourselves is not always the things we should say about others, however. Most of us know the difference.