I finally decided that I had to actually subscribe, because this is good stuff and I’m getting to it late. Not that it’s out of date, but I could have been thinking about this six days ago, and it might have helped me when I was dealing with the “all my writing is crap” phase the other day.
What am I talking about? This article from Dean Wesley Smith: Writer vs. Author.
I like Dean’s stuff. He gets me thinking. The bold text is from his article, it’s not mine. I’m just reacting here to it, thinking it all out on “paper,” as it were.
Anyway, I have to wonder if there’s a bit of a gray area here. I’m not sure.
I’ve always considered myself a writer. Yes, when I was younger, in my early days, I used to say, “I’ll be a published author.”
However, that phrase never sat well with me, and while I can’t pin down the specifics of when I stopped using it, I’ve been calling myself a writer for a long time now. I don’t say I’m an author, not even with Just a Whim out there in circulation. I am a writer.
Then I read the article and went–am I really an writer? Or am I an author? Or what?
A Writer is a person who writes.
An Author is a person who has written.
By those definitions, then, I’m both. On the surface, at least. I have written. I have published. I am still writing, though. Currently up on my computer and being flipped between as I process my thoughts (remember, I am the crazy multitasker) is a story file, the second novel in a series, and I haven’t published the first one.
A Writer is always focused on the story they are writing at the moment, always focused on the story coming next to write. A Writer is always focused on the future.
I have four stories at the moment, so I can’t say that I’m on one in particular, but when I’m rotating between them (as I do in my mad multitasking way), I am focused on the one I’m working on at the time. I don’t know about the future, though. I know the ideas don’t stop coming, so I’m always complaining that I don’t have time for them and when will I get that time?
An Author is always focused on what they have written.
An Author is always focused into the past.
Well, here’s the thing: since I published Just a Whim, I haven’t opened it since. I love it, but I don’t even want to look at it. Have I thought about it in other senses? Of course. Is it selling? Is anyone interested in it? Should I tell someone else about it? Was it worth publishing in the first place? (The answer to that last one was, of course, yes.) I do reread my old stuff periodically, but I don’t think I’m focused on the past.
I know–no gray area yet. I’m getting there.
A Writer is a person who writes the next story.
An Author is a person who spends their time promoting their last story.
I have been, or thought I was, doing both. The blog, the website, the facebook, that’s all part of promoting the last book. It’s not just about the last book. Oh, no. In fact, I’ve talked very little about Just a Whim since I started doing this blogging thing. Just a Whim was published in October. I started blogging in November. I fixed the website in November. Since then, though, I’ve finished four novels, started The Not-So-Super Superhero daily blog story, and it is one of four that I’m working on right now.
So I am doing both. I gave more people copies of Just a Whim and one of them more of the new ones to read over. And that file is still open. I’ve already added words to it while I thought about this post.
Promotion is what I continue to argue over, too.
Writers tend to believe that their own writing is the best promotion.
I would so much rather let my books do the talking. I want the next book to promote Just a Whim. I want those pieces back so I can finish the next one and get it up there and let that do the talking, not me. I’ve got them in edits and cover art is coming a long for most of them, but the one thing I know I can’t do is edit on my own. I’ll miss something. I’m too close to the story. So I can edit, but mostly, I push that off to other people and work on the next one, fixing according to their comments when I get them, but my focus is the next one.
A Writer gets feedback from the simple act of writing and finishing stories.
An Author must get feedback from external sources such as reviews, sales, promotions, editors, workshops, and so on.
I love writing. I’m always writing. I get a thrill–but also a depression from finishing stories. I know the characters’ story is done, and I’m going to miss them. So that part is sad. On the other hand, I finished, and that is a major yay and victory dance moment. (Don’t even ask–I’m not sharing the victory dance.)
On the other hand, though, stories are meant to be shared. I wrote what I wrote for me and the characters, but it’s not quite… finished until it’s shared, until someone else loves it, too. That is why I email sections of my stories to someone as soon as I finish them, why I put it on the ereader and shove it at my mother and command her to read it, why I’ve got it posted in some places where people can read it, why I’ll email it to anyone willing to read it. I need to share.
When no one comments or barely acknowledges it, it is discouraging. I wrote a wonderful story I wanted to share, and no one is buying it or telling me they like it or even reading it as far as I can tell. Sometimes sales or reviews are the only way you know it’s being read, and you get a little desperate looking for that acknowledgement and you start wondering… Was it really that bad? Was I wrong to write it?
It’s not wrong to write it, even if I’m the only one that will appreciate it. I love it. I worked hard on it. No one else has to love it, and realistically, they’ll never feel the same way as I do about the story. That’s just life.
So then if you consider this part here:
All Writers need to do is write the next story and when it’s done, get it to readers and continue on writing the next story and the next and the next.
And that’s the point I am trying to get to. Each person must decide why they write.
Is it to be published and get acclaim? Then you are more than likely an Author.
If you write because you love to tell stories, love the fear and the joy and the excitement of entertaining yourself while telling stories, then you are more than likely a Writer.
I’m a writer. I’m a writer… but with a little dash of an author thrown in there. I think that sums me up well, or at least as well as anything can.
Edit: I’m told that I missed the point of the article, though. As long as I keep writing, I’m still a writer. Sounds so simple put like that, doesn’t it? 😛