Writer (noun) – A person who writes books, articles, etc., especially as an occupation.
Author (noun) – One who practices writing as a profession.
When people ask me what I do, I tell them about my day job. And then, usually after a pause, I say, “but I’m also a writer.” I don’t tell them I’m an author. Not yet, though I have written it down a few times (like on my Twitter and Facebook profiles).
Which got me to thinking: What makes a writer a writer? And what makes an author an author? And most importantly, when can a writer consider herself an author?
Is it the money? Well, I did jut get my first check for signing the contract for the first two books in my Star Harbor series. My first check! For writing! But I don’t think it has anything to do with money. I’d written articles for scholarly journals (for free!) which had been published, and I considered myself the author of those pieces, but not an author and definitely not a writer. Never a writer, despite the fact that in essence, I wrote professionally for a decade.
Yet, when I penned my first novel, even though I didn’t have an agent or a book deal and the tantalizing thought of being paid for the work hadn’t even crossed my mind, I immediately began thinking of myself as a writer. It was my secret thing. I’d steal hours out of the day and night and I simply wrote. I still think of it like that, and the one thing I tell myself every day is, “writers write.”
Do you have to be published to be an author? I’m not convinced that you do. I’m sure there are many folks who work at their writing professionally and who consider themselves to be authors because they are pursuing writing as an occupation, but who for some reason or another haven’t had their works published. Conversely, there are lots of people out there who author published works (like me in my former life) who don’t consider themselves to be authors at all.
Or is it as simple as a declaration? “I am an author!”
Needless to say, I’m still working through all of this. I know I’m a writer, but I’m still not convinced I’ll consider myself an author until my first book comes out next July.
What do you think? What makes a writer an author?