Author? Writer?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Earlier this morning I had to define myself for the purposes of an upcoming event, and I stumbled.  There was to be a single one word descriptor, followed by a bio.

One. Word. Descriptor.

Author? I wondered.  Or writer?

Writer feels like where I am, just now in my career.  Author is what I think I'm supposed to be (when I grow up, when I get all this, when all this gets at least a little easier). 

Do you feel as I do, about those words?  Does the word author seem somehow enthroned?  Or am I obsessing?  Again.

15 comments:

bermudaonion said...

You are definitely an author!

Amy said...

Perhaps this quote I just read (insert Beth Kephart for 'I') might help your dilemma:

As an author, I've been named a National Book Award finalist, an NEA grant winner, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts recipient, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts winner, a Leeway Foundation award winner, the author of a Book Sense pick, and a Speakeasy Poetry Prize winner. UNDERCOVER, HOUSE OF DANCE, NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, and THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE, my young adult novels, have all received critical acclaim. My books have been translated into Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Italian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Dutch, Mandarin, and other languages. In the fall of 2009 I taught the advanced nonfiction workshop at the University of Pennsylvania and served as author in residence for readergirlz. In 2009 this blog was nominated as one of the top five author blogs during Book Blogger Appreciation Week.

I remember when I was first a teacher. Every time someone in the class said 'Amy' I turned around. I couldn't be the one in charge, could I. But I was. I caught myself calling someone else a grownup the other day. I am too. Sometimes, like the too-long sleeved jackets we had to wear during growth spurts, we have to try something on and keep wearing it, trusting that we'll grow into it. Author may still feel a bit long in the sleeves, but I think it's what you should pick.

Kelly H-Y said...

I've thought about that often, when people ask me about it. I always say I'm a writer, because I'm not published yet. You, however, I would definitely label 'AUTHOR'!!! :-)

Julia said...

bermudaonion-- definitely. Seconded. Labels always seem to be for others, not you.

Amy said...

How about blogger or writer? :P (it's the next rung down)

You are both! but yes,, you're definitely an author!

Q said...

I don't generally use author except in the context of "She's the author of _______." I also think it's important to be a writer first and an author second--because one leads into the other.

Karen Mahoney said...

I think you are whatever you feel comfortable with. I worry about this stuff, too. :)

Now that I've been published (in anthologies) and I have a novel coming out next year... does that make me an 'author'? I am inclined to think of 'author' as something you have DONE (past tense), whereas 'writer' is something you ARE (present tense).

So my job description = writer. I am a writer.

But I'm the author of THE IRON WITCH, etc.

Florinda said...

I'm not the first to say it in these comments, but I say you're both. For me, "author" is attached to the works one produces as a "writer," but a "writer" may not have "authored" anything (yet), if that makes sense. (if it doesn't, than I'm not much of a writer, and I'm definitely not an author!)

Beth Kephart said...

I love all these responses. Thank you. It was the single word aspect that threw me. I think proper English calls for, "I am the author of." But when one asks for a single noun, the one and only one word that describes the one you, hmmmmm.

Mom is about the only word that ever seemed to fit me well.

Indigo said...

I think once you've succeeded in getting published, you've earned the right to call yourself an author. I know how difficult that journey can be. (Hugs)Indigo

Julia said...

Indeed-- writer first, author second. It's never the published part that counts. It's the enjoyment of the writing.

Beth F said...

Definitely author. Yes, the words have different connotations, but I think you are more than a writer. Funny isn't it that journalists, poets, and playwrights get elevated descriptors but authors struggle with the words "author" and "writer"?

Lilian Nattel said...

An author is the published persona; the writer is the person who sits at the desk. That's how I'd put it. Which one is going to be there?

Alison's Book Marks said...

Go to your bookshelf. Do you see a little book entitled The Heart is Not a Size? Ok. Whose name is on the cover? Yep. You're an author. :)

A writer is what I am...and I have a long, long way to go before I'm an author. Long way.

Melissa Walker said...

I hear you, Beth. I always say writer for some reason. Author is so grown up!

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