This morning I was on a writers’ check-in (DelveWriting.com) and we were discussing what the definition of a writer is. Several of my fellow writers felt they were not being taken seriously by their family and friends. We all know we are writers yet the lack of outside support brought the whole idea into a bit of a question mark. When is a writer a writer and how is that defined?
Just over 3 months ago my personal life made an unexpected left turn that forced a directional change in my profession. My entire life has been spent in one creative medium or another (painting, photography, jewelry design, and writing just to name a few) with many of these, amazingly, provided me with a bit of an income too. Writing was a constant since I can remember. I wrote my first poem in grade school. In high school I consumed everything ever written by Edgar Allen Poe, and wrote as much as I read. College was the same. I studied creative writing and wrote several articles for local and online publications. As adulthood came and went (I think I’m back in my youth) I found myself reading hundreds of books from science fiction/fantasy to historical novels, and from the spiritual to steam-punk. Then, for the last 8 years I pursued several businesses that sucked my time, and my life, with little reward.
At the beginning of 2013 I found myself, yet again, re-evaluating my career and saw an opportunity to do something that has niggled at me since I can remember. Now, in reliving some of my youth, I find myself with a writer’s itch and have started a novel of my own. Does this make me a professional writer? If you do a Google search with the key words “definition of writer” and “definition of author” the results are very similar. The word “author” is simply defined as someone who writes a poem, novel, report, blog, letter or any type of manuscript. A writer, on the other hand, does the same thing with the added note that the items he or she has authored are published and the writer is being paid to do the work. Following this line of thought brings us to the notion that everyone who has ever written something, whether a letter to Aunt Genevieve or a poem to an ex-wife, is an author. The writer gets paid to do the same things.
On the surface, these differences may seem trivial to the passing reader, but to a writer they can make the difference between being the family’s poet for greeting cards, or a best selling novelist who rubs elbows with the likes of Agathie Christie or Norman Mailer. It is the difference between being taken seriously and given an “atta-boy” pat on the back. In my opinion, a writer is a person who takes their work seriously enough to spend the time it takes to create a work of written art and then have the gumption to believe they should be paid for it.