|Almost – Photo Credit Jan Bowman 3/15/12
After recent conversations with a couple of “writerly” friends, I’ve thought about the way people describe themselves. Some preferred to call themselves authors, while others, including myself, preferred to be called writers. Several others just include both words on their cards and websites.
So what’s the difference? And does it matter?
The terms writer and author seem broad and inclusive across genres. Whether you write poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, plays or journalism, blogs or tweets, the resulting process produces text in some form to be shared with readers. But as I think about this a bit more, I think I prefer to be called a writer because I write. And writing is an active process that brings to mind the active verb, to write. It suggests engagement in an ongoing process, an active adventure conducted with a human mind, creative spirit, and the technical appendage of pen or computer.
|“Too Soon? Where’s Everybody?” Jan Bowman 3/15/12
It seems to me that the term author, suggests past tense or a passive process; one who is an author has finished a piece of work, patted it lovingly on the head, and sent it out into the world. She or he could decide to never put another word on the page. They would still be authors, but they would no longer be writers who write. While that’s unlikely, unless a writer has ceased to exist in the present world, the two terms don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Dead authors have works published long after they’ve died, but one thing for sure, they don’t write any more words.
And while publishers send out the work of writers and market the titles under authors’ names, authors seek to build a following of readers. And although stores of brick and mortar, as well as online stores, market these products and sometimes promote the authors of such work, the real work to produce coherent and thoughtful text still lies with the writer who dedicates the most valuable things he or she possesses – time and energy. Writing is an active process. To be a writer, you must actually write; to be an author, you must have written at some point in your life. And to me – that is a huge difference.
Spring brings thoughts of new growth and rich possibilities. And for writers who would be authors who continue to write, spring’s renewal helps us see how we might blend our hopes and creativity into joyful action.
This afternoon The Roanoke Review contacted me to say my short story, “Mermaids” had won first prize in their annual fiction contest. I am thrilled! And you can call me writer or author. Life is Good!
Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2012 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers. Learn more at: