Why “Fictioneer”?

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I am asked by a reader — Why do you call yourself a fictioneer?  Isn’t that a derogatory term?

Answer:  Why yes, I suppose it  is.  Merriam Webster gives the following definition:  One who writes fiction, especially in quantity and without high standards.

Ouch!  Curse you, Merriam-Webster! How could you betray me so?  *shakes fist*


Given that definition, why do I use the term?  Well, for a couple reasons. The first (and less important) reason I use it is to appropriate to my own purposes a common criticism levied at tie-in writers (namely, that we write a lot of fiction without high standards).  Everyone in this corner of the universe knows that I’ve called bullshit on that countless times and will continue to do so until the Lord returns in glory.   There’s no need for me to repeat it all again.  But the point is to turn the would-be insult into a badge of honor.

The second, and more important, reason I use it is as a self-deprecating, mildly amusing way to remind me not to take myself too seriously.  Now, make no mistake: I take the craft of writing seriously.  And I take my obligation to my readers seriously (see my posts on ‘earning and re-earning the audience’, to get a sense of what I mean).  But I don’t want to take myself too seriously.  Like  just  about every author writing today, in seventy-five years all of my work will be out of print and long forgotten by everyone except my grandchildren (hopefully).   It’s a useful perspective to keep in mind when the temptation to self-importance rears its head.

My philosophy (such as it is) on writing is very simple:  Have fun writing stories that are fun for others to read.  Everything else is gravy.  Non-lumpy, turkey gravy.  Over mashed potatoes.

Mmm.  Mashed potatoes….

Anyway, by the end of this year about 750,000 copies of books with my name on them will have sold in the English speaking world.  That’s not half bad, and means a lot of folks are, indeed,  having fun reading what I write (and those of you who are not having fun reading what I write are fundamentally flawed human beings; I’m sorry to say it, but there it is :-)).  I think that’s awesome.  It’s also humbling.  And it doesn’t matter whether anyone in 2085 is still reading anything I’ve written, because I’m having fun with it today.  I hope you are, too.

So, “The Fictioneer” it is and shall remain.  🙂

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4 thoughts on “Why “Fictioneer”?

  1. Preach it, brother! Although, I like “fictioneer” because it reminds me of “rocketeer” and wouldn’t it be great if we could all wear funny helmets and jet packs as we write?

    (Also, chicken gravy. On french fires. With cheese curds. Mmm. Poutine…)

    • “and wouldn’t it be great if we could all wear funny helmets and jet packs as we write?”

      What, you don’t? Man, you’re missing out.

  2. Here, here! Let freethinkers think–well, um, er, freely. Why should someone set our standards for us?

    Paul S. Kemp, Fictioneer. Going where no writer has gone before…

    Want that on a banner? I could put gravy over mashed potatoes as the logo.

  3. You use that term because “Imagineer” is a trademark of Disney Corporation, and you don’t want that kind of legal heat. Am I right? 😉

    Good posts quite often, Paul; I just rarely have time to comment.

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