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A panopoly of poets, playwrights, novelists, storytellers, and imagists--not a stable of writers or a media scrum



Photos and books by Anne Hart.


Are you treated neutral, uplifting, or underwhelming across various creative disciplines? If you're tired of hearing literary agents and entertainment producers or media publishers use the phrase, "a stable of writers" instead of "a staple of writers" (because horses belong in a stable, not writers, artists, photographers, designers, inventors, publicists, editors, or any other creative people working for producers, content designers, or publishers) -- there's also the term, "a scrum of journalists."  But there's something deriding about the sound of 'scrum.' It sounds too disposable, too close to the word 'scum.' and emits an ambiance of putting down a distant observer to lift up a marketing genius. You may wish to check out the audio/video version of my article/blog at the Internet Archive website.


According to the Urban Dictionary, a scrum of journalists (or a media scrum) is defined as a "A horde of photographers and/or journalists that gather to snap that first shot, or ask that first question , at a scene of media excitement, usually involving a famous person mired in controversy, or even just joe public thrown into the spotlight for a similar outrage or scandal." Why refer to a group of journalists with the tone, mood, and texture of sensational media or scandal as compared to investigative or curious --or someone searching thoroughly for facts that can be validated?


There are definitions such as photojournalists, investigative journalists, science news reporters, and other terms for media people. Freelancers also are referred to by some people as being included in a stable, such as a stable of assistants just as in the past was the typing or steno pool rather than the data entry personnel or team.


A team of writers is more uplifting than a stable of writers. Freelancers would rather be referred to as independents, and entrepreneur sounds better than independent contractor or outsourced assistant or the proverbial 'temp' worker filling in for someone on leave. Nevertheless, for the past few decades writers and other creative people often were referred to as "my stable of writers" instead of "my team of writers." After all, you're part of a team, a group, or a cohort, not inhabitants of any type of stable, even though you may be a staple of an industry.


You have a flock of birds, a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, a business of flies, a herd of harts, a train of jackdaws, a kindle of kittens, a company of wigeons, a dazzle of zebras, an ostentation of peacocks, a string of ducks, a wisdom of wombats, and so on. You may wish to check out the Wikipedia List of English Terms of Venery, by animal. You could refer to any group of people as a crowd, a mob, which all have connotations of crowd control issues and unpredictability.


Or refer to a gathering of people as a knot or "a bundle of book lovers." But unless the journalists or other types of writers are working together on one project as a team, they're a group, not a team of writers that might refer to a team revising and rewriting a screenplay or other tome. Journalists competing for a scoop to get the story first to various newspapers are not working together as a team and generally are trying to get the story first to their editors. Writers and designers/artists/animators working together to revise one book, animation project, script, or play for one producer or director are pulling together as a team. Online writers and editors are referred to as content producers. The writer becomes a producer instead of a creator or designer of word imagery.


A group of poets may be written about as a gathering of imagists


Fiction writers are known as storytellers or novelists, or a group described as a panopoly of playwrights. A panopoly describes "a splendid or striking array or arrangement: a panoply of colorful flags," according to The Free Dictionary. But playwrights and scriptwriters use imagery in words to portray drama, comedy, instruction, or other information for training or celebration, often with colorful words and imagery in the stage settings or camera angles. Would you rather be referred to as part of a panopoly of poets and playwrights who are imagists? Would it feel more uplifting than to be known as part of a literary agent's or producer's "stable of writers?"


There has to be a more uplifting name for a group of writers, artists, or designers or other creative people, including inventors, or freelancers and other independent occupations that are a staple in a group rather than in a stable or pool. There's nothing wrong with saying "a team of writers," because that's what a group of them usually do on a project--work together as a team. And one writer is not part of a 'stable' of writers, but actually a client of a literary agent, publisher, or producer. At least "a client"as an independent contractor as compared to an employee, has a neutral connotation rather than a denotation of belonging in someone's stable, scrum, or anyone else under common management, such as an "outsource of editors."


Writers also can be imagists (a more creative connotation) as well as content producers (a more marketing-oriented description) that fits into technology. There's the denotation and the connotation of someone creating and editing content. The term rests on researching the intended audience for market research before the tome is written to see who will pay for words and/or imagery that's clear to understand and follow.


For too long, people under "common management" have been referred to as in a stable. The term often has been applied to athletes or entertainers, under common management: a stable of prizefighters or a stable of cooks. It's time the word 'stable' which brings up images of a place that smells unappetizing, full of animals, their droppings, breath, and feed odors, stops being applied to those who create, invent, report, write, direct, play sports, or entertain.


Perhaps a cohort, which refers to a group of subjects who have shared a particular event together during a particular time span is a better name for a group of writers working together on a team, such as a cohort of scriptwriters or editors. Or for a one-syllable word for a creative person might be just the word 'crew.' At least being part of a crew is better than being a 'revamp' temp. You also may wish to check out this video, "Briefly." It's about how to use "the brief" across multiple creative disciplines.