Monday, August 16, 2010

Famous? Writers?

Via Twitter this morning I came upon a link--at Online University Reviews, which strikes me as an odd home for it--to "100 Famous Writers You Can Follow on Twitter." For some reason I was expecting a list of, you know, famous writers that I could follow on Twitter. Guys like Neil Gaiman, for instance, whom I have followed for some little time. Instead I got a list of more or less "famous" people, some of whom can legitimately be said to be writers, others who... Well, some of them aren't even people. Here's one:
    16. Threadless: "This a community of t-shirt designers who often write odd, yet inspiring messages on clothing. Follow them to read the latest shirts or find out how to add your own."
Hmm. Call me a snob, but Threadless hardly meets my definition of "famous writer." Likewise (snobbishly, maybe), I am perplexed that the section of "Famous Book Writers You Can Follow on Twitter" comes sixth on the list, after "Famous Political Writers You Can Follow on Twitter," "Famous Inspirational Writers You Can Follow on Twitter," "Famous Actor/Writers You Can Follow on Twitter," and "Famous Music Writers You Can Follow on Twitter." We're up to #48 on the list of "writers" before we get to book authors!

At least book authors manage to get in there ahead of "Famous Internet Writers You Can Follow on Twitter," "Famous Screenwriters You Can Follow on Twitter," "Famous Comic Book Writers You Can Follow on Twitter," and "Famous Gossip Writers You Can Follow on Twitter," to say nothing of the oddball category "Best Collection Of Writers To Follow On Twitter" (sorry, but neither "Fox News" nor "CNN" qualifies as "a writer").

To be fair, some of the other categories feature individuals who can properly be said to be book authors--Barack Obama, Al Gore, John McCain and others who appear in the "Political Writers" list, for instance. None of those three, by the way, strikes me as a "political writer," but the point probably is open to debate.

The list is especially shaky--and sketchy--when it comes to the "Actor/Writers" and "Music Writers" sections. For instance,
    27. David Henrie: This young actor is best known for his role on “The Wizards of Waverly Place.” He often responds to his fans tweets and lets them know what is going on with him.
Well, he sounds like a nice young man. The reason he appears on a list of famous writers, though, eludes me.

The list of "Music Writers" is especially off-point. Where one might expect a list of people who write about music, one instead gets a list of musicians and even bands. Not even writers of music, based on some of the descriptions:
    40. Ashlee Simpson Wentz: Married to the above and a recent mother, Ashlee is best known for her hit “Pieces of Me” and her controversial performance on “Saturday Night Live.” Get baby pics, love notes to her husband, and random thoughts.
I have plenty of random thoughts of my own, thanks. For instance: What makes Ashlee Simpson Wentz a "famous writer"? Singer, sure; actress, okay; celebrity, yep. But "famous writer"? Nope.

Let's be clear: I am not commenting on the legitimacy of different kinds of writing. Well, except to say that tweeting, which I have done a certain amount of, is not "writing." I don't view screenwriters or comic-book writers as better or worse than book authors. Alan Moore, who is on the list, is indeed a famous writer; his work just happens to be in the comic book/graphic novel medium. No, what I'm commenting on is the validity of the list, which is pretty low.

I'd rather see a list of famous writers who are in fact writers--not just celebrities on Twitter.

Shoot, I'd be equally happy with a list of non-famous writers.

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