The other day, Todd Newton wrote about the difference between ‘authors’ and ‘writers’, and how those of us in the trenches think of ourselves as one or the other, or aspire to be one or the other.
Let’s be clear.
An author is defined like this:
Noun: A writer of a book, article, or report.
A writer is this:
2. A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.
Source: Google (who else?).
There’s not much difference between the two, is there? A bit of tweaking, but essentially, they both allude to someone who writes books. So, if you’re an author, you’re a writer. If you’re a writer, you’re an author. There’s no reason to choose one or the other as something to aspire to and achieve. You can be both at the same time. And at this moment, you are. You write. You’ve written books. You have authored a book and can exclaim at the top of your lungs, “I’m a writer!”
Never knew, did ya?
However, that’s not really what we all want when we say we want to some day be an Author (note the capitalization) or a Writer. What we really want is the thing hinted at in that last definition:
…as a job or regular occupation.
That’s what we want. We want cold, hard cash for our words. Why? Are we all greedy? Do we all want to be rich?
Well, yes, but the reason we want to be paid, as in like a regular job, for our writing is because in our society, that’s how we show each other that we value the effort.
I get paid good money to make maps, develop complex 3D geologic models, and mess with millions of numbers. My knowledge and skills are so valued someone is willing to pay me to sit on my butt for more than 40 hours a week and pay me for every second I’m there.
Wouldn’t it be cool if folks paid me to sit on my butt so that I could write stories for them? Funny stories? Scary stories? Romance stories? It-Has-It-All stories?
Well, duh, of course. That’s the point. Make enough money by selling your stories or articles so that one doesn’t have to do other things to put food on the table, heat the house, and clothe yourself and the kids.
I think that’s what folks mean when they say they want to be an author or writer.
Or, I might be just talking out of my ass. I really don’t know. All I know is that I’ve been doing what I do for more than 25 years. I make good money at it. I doubt I’ll ever make enough money writing than I do in my current profession. I don’t aspire to be an author or a writer. That’s for other young (or old) folk who want to write as their main occupation, to earn our peer’s stamp of approval by way of making enough cash to support themselves.
I think they should go for it. They should aspire to be a Writer with a capital W and demand what their words are worth. But, for myself, my writing is a hobby. I don’t want to compete for an agent or for a slot in this year’s or next year’s publishing queue. I just want to share my stories.
I am a writer, because I write.
(Did any of that make sense? I’m tired. Good night.)