I Learned a New Word Today

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

As a big fan of crosswords and Scrabble, I’m always learning new words. Words like qaid, a tribal leader, but more importantly a word that uses the letter q but doesn’t need a u. But yesterday morning, I learned a new word as I brushed my teeth. The morning news folks were talking about Jenifer Hudson, the multi-hyphenate. The what?

Turns out multi-hyphenate first made an appearance in the entertainment industry of the 1970s for things like producer-director or writer-actor. But my introduction to this new world, Jennifer Hudson is a singer-actress-talk show host-author-Weight Watcher spokesperson-clothing line launcher or, for short, a multi-hyphenate. Although originally used for creative people, when Emma Gammon’s book The Multi-Hyphen Life: Work Less, Create More, and Design a Life That works for You was released in 2020 it expanded the use of multi-hyphenate to…well, everyone. Because who doesn’t have a side gig, passion or hobby in addition to their main job?

Some may feel that labelling yourself a multi-hyphenate makes you sound impressive, accomplished, driven. But I have my doubts. Because what human has dedicated themselves to just one role in life? My world is populated by a baker who is also a production line worker. A banker who is also a philanthropist. An IT specialist who is also a musician. A teacher who is also a mountain climber. A probation officer who is also a landscaper.

Don’t get me started about writers! How do they fit into the multi-hyphenate world? I’ve known writers  who were also librarians, lawyers, museum directors, teachers, forklift drivers, personal assistants, cellists, teachers, engineers, therapists, racehorse breeders and farmers. Not to mention the many writing related titles we assume: novelist, non-fiction author, children’s author, copyeditor, publicist, publishers, proofreader, literary agent, writing instructor, journalist, editor, content writer, book reviewer, columnist.

Personally, I’m a blogger-content writer-essayist-blog tour manager-social media manager-book reviewer-photographer-author. Or as I like to call myself: a writer. 

There was a time when advice from on high told writers to specialize in one type of writing. Is any writer a specialist now or are we better served by becoming proficient in multiple areas? And if we all branch out into many areas does the term multi-hyphenate lose all its cache?

Are we all just…people?

Jodi M. Webb writes from her home in the Pennsylvania mountains. After a decade hiatus from writing, she is back with recent bylines in Bob Vila, Pennsylvania Magazine Mental Floss and a WIP about her plant obsession. She's also a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. Get to know her @jodiwebbwrites , Facebook and blogging at Words by Webb.

1 comments:

Renee Roberson said...

I have to agree with you that most writers and artists are all "multi-hyphenates." I didn't know that's what we were calling celebrities now although I have to say I like it better than the word "influencer." I do remember when we were encouraged to specialize in one or two types of writing because it would be more lucrative but I think those days are probably well past us, LOL. We're all just writing what we can to survive and stay relevant in the industry.

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