The question came up — Do you think the term 'newbie' is offensive?
I really had to get the word put into some sort of context to understand exactly what the question was intended to mean. To my chagrin, I was told:
You constantly state "a newbie writer will find…" In other words, isn't that a bit condescending?
When I first started writing, working my way toward being published, I had no issue with people calling me a newbie. In fact, I even stated several times that I was a newbie writer.
But, it seems, in my weekly writing tips, and here, too, I will relegate a gem of wisdom to the so-called newbie writer. In other words, I appear to be talking down to the people who are relatively new to the writing process; sharing with them with my sage advice, or so it appears.
I do not consider myself a sage. I've learned a lot of great writing tips and techniques over the years and I enjoy sharing those secrets with others — and not just those writers who have picked up pen and paper for the first time, but also with the extremely multi-published.
Even though I have several books, short stories and articles published to my credit, I still find I can learn from another writer. Surprisingly, sometimes it is from a "newbie" who is seeking to be published.
Yes, knowledge comes from everywhere, but I digress.
Is the term offensive? I never really considered it to be but now that it has been brought to my attention. Yes, it is offensive. By using the term, it indicates I think myself to be better qualified.
Consider this. Do you call a medical college graduate, fresh from the diploma strut, and you are his or her first patient, a newbie? No, you call that person "doctor" and don't have any qualms regarding the issue. Sure, the student was an "intern" before graduation, but…
Maybe, instead of calling a writer who is fresh to the profession a 'newbie,' we should consider the term 'intern' for that awkward period.
Of course, that begs to be asked. When does an intern writer graduate?
[sigh] You want all the answers!
Actually, let's take a different path, shall we?
Why do we even need the term 'newbie' or 'intern' to signify that we are new to writing? What is wrong with just saying "I'm a writer" and move on? Why must we seek to label everything. If we want the other person to know more, then list your publishing credits or state you've just started. I see no reason to open a line of discussion with "I'm a newbie writer" and insult yourself — unless you want to. For me to say I am a newbie writer when I'm talking to a well-published writer, somehow that doesn't seem to offend me. I'm calling myself, it is not you judging. Yes, you calling me a newbie writer is most definitely establishing a model of superiority and name-calling. It is sort of like ethnicity slurs. Those of the ethnic and/or minority groups (Italians, Blacks, gays, etc) will use derogatory slur terms among themselves and all is fine — most of the time, depending on how the sentence is conveyed. BUT, for an outsider to say the same thing — that is definitely a major no-no and derogatory.
Therefore, let's not use any labels. We're all writers. We're all learning.
Of course, there are good writers and bad writers — and yes, those are labels. There isn't anything that can be done for that, it is a truth. Bad writers exist and they aren't necessarily new writers. In fact, they could have several books published. Good writer vs. bad writers is another discussion.
Right now, I'm moving forward and leaving the "newbie" word behind me. I have no use for it, neither describing myself nor another writer.
Until next I ramble on...