I call myself a writer. I call myself an author. And no longer with apology.
If you Google, “Writer vs. Author”, you’ll come up with dozens of articles and blogs about what defines each. Essentially, an author is someone who originates or gives existence to an idea, plot, characters, etc., while a writer is someone who engages in writing of their own ideas or works that aren’t necessarily their own idea. This broad brushstroke covers books, short stories, non-fiction, essays, academic writing, letters, newspaper articles, etc. These definitions seem pretty simply in theory. Right? However, how you define yourself, whether it is author, writer or both, it still comes down to two scary, additional qualifications: “Have you been published?” and/or, “Have you been paid?”
I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old. Kid stuff, funny stuff, camp stories. Eventually it morphed into depressed teenage poetry. Granted, that didn’t make me exceptional. Who hasn’t gone through the “lock yourself in your bedroom with nothing but a candle and write whiny poetry phase?” As a kid, I made up my own stories, which looking back were heavily influenced by Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls, but I made them up. I can confidently say I authored them. I didn’t confidently call myself a writer until nearly 25 years later. Because I wasn’t paid, I wasn’t published.
And it messed with my head. Why are we prevented from calling ourselves who we are in our souls just because money hasn’t exchanged hands, because I can’t claim profits from my obsession on my taxes, or because I can’t direct someone to a bookstore to check out my latest release?
Would you tell a woman who has sung in her church choir for the last 25 years that she is not a singer? Would you tell a man who has coached for all his children’s little league teams that he is not a coach? Would you tell someone who spends their weekends playing guitar for cancer kids that they are not a guitarist? Would you tell someone who dedicates their lives to community theatre that they are not an actor or actress? So why would you tell a writer that they are not a writer because they haven’t received a stipend nor can place their book or magazine in your hand?
Switching my minor to Creative Writing while at university left me with a collection of 20 short stories – WELL CRAFTED stories, if you believe my writing professors. Which I do. So, after going through a three year “what the fuck do I do now?” phase after graduating with my degree, I’ve started the painstaking and tedious task of short story submission while I complete a new novel. Low and behold, I received my first short story acceptance letter last October, and the story is finally out!
Check it out….: http://www.ascentaspirations.ca/tableofcontents.htm Yep, that’s me, Wendy C. Williford, “Featured Writer”.
But, I’m not getting paid. And I’m okay with that. I’m published in an online magazine and that’s what makes me happy. I have another short story that will be featured in print next month. Still not paid, but twice published, and it makes me happy. As far as the next 18 stories…..let’s see.