Writers in any sense

September. Fall. The turning of leaves, the raking, and the bite of a cold breeze.

In South Dakota, September means something more – books. The smell of a musty page, the excitement of a new purchase, the promise of a unknown writer, of a person looking for that small push towards notoriety. More specifically, September signifies the coming of Fourth Annual South Dakota Festival of Books. I, for one, am very excited.

And when I’m excited, I start listing things.

In honor of the upcoming book festival, I will be presenting my personal Top 25 Writers Countdown – the 25 writers who I look up to, who changed my outlook on words, or who inspired me to finally try this reading thing, this writing thing, and this blogging thing.

But what is a writer?

To me, this term can’t be smashed into one category. The best writers aren’t just authors or poets. They’re great lyricists. They’re important journalists. They write articles, songs, graphic novels, screenplays, television scripts, advertising, stand up comedy, hip hop, and opinions.

Who would you pick? The Coen Brothers or Bob Dylan? Walter Cronkite or Hunter S. Thompson? Ernest Hemmingway? Art Spiegelman? Joni Mitchell? Crispin Porter, David Sederis, or David Cross?

Constant readers probably remember my Top 100 Countdown back in April. For me, the most enjoyable part of constructing that list wasn’t the countdown itself, but the responses from friends, family, and fellow bloggers. Top ten lists came from everywhere. I’m not the only one who likes to list things, and it showed in the responses I got. Everyone has different tastes, and it’s fascinating to see the reasons why.

So in the upcoming weeks, you’ll be seeing the same thing. Writers being honored. Lyricists being heralded. Poets and playwrights and comics being raised up together, as one populace dedicated to putting words together in their own unique ways.

Do you think Jay-Z is more important to you than Charles Dickens? Would you rather experience the collective writing of the Monty Python troupe or the inventive wordplay of Shakespeare?

Send me your top ten. And let’s join together in celebrating the art of writing.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 26th, 2006