Friday, November 19, 2010

Author vs. Writer--What's the Difference?

Thoreau - "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."

I was talking with my friend, Pat, as I have almost every Sunday for 3 decades, and she was comforting me about my most recent agent rejection. She reassured me about my creativity and that I will reach my publication goals. Well, that’s what friends are for, eh?

I told her that I have a wonderful life. I am living my dream. I get to sit at my computer every day for hours and let the stories pour onto the virtual pages in front of me. I get to spend hours every week in the company of really smart women in my two critique groups, Desert Flowers and Pens Afire.

Unlike many writers, I don’t HAVE to make a living doing this. That would be the proverbial cherry on the top.

So what if I never publish? Does that matter? Am I still an author? And what is the difference between saying you are a “writer” and saying you are an “author”?

I was having this conversation with a couple of my critique partners from my writing groups, Desert Flowers and Pens Afire, while returning from the Society of Southwestern Authors “Wrangling with Writing” Conference in Tucson this September. Are we “writers” or are we “authors”?

I posited that a writer is someone who writes without publishing aspirations. The purposes for writers can vary from personal satisfaction and revelation to creating stories for family and friends. Writers can be as serious as authors in working on pieces.

But, in my definition, an author is someone who takes the extra steps toward a commitment to publishing. Whether or not a work is ever published, the author positions herself so that efforts lead toward publication and marketing of her work. Like me doing this blog, for instance.

What do you think? What is the difference, if any, between a writer and an author?

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