It’s much more fun to be an author than a writer.
Authors give talks, autograph their books, advise new writers, and greet fans with a smile and a nod. Writers sit at their computers (or with their pads of paper), try to decide how a character would act and speak in a particular scene, try to block out their internal editor and all distractions, and wonder if the story they’re trying to tell has any merit at all.
Writers—at least this writer—stares at the computer screen, gets up and goes into the kitchen, gets a cup of coffee, goes back to the computer, stares at the screen, types a few words, deletes most of those words, gets up, walks into the living room, stares at the dog, goes back to the computer, stares at the screen…
Many people see the public persona of the writer (the author) and think it’s an easy way to make money. They’ve heard about the huge advance some author or another has received, read a book in just a few hours or maybe a couple days and thought, How hard can it be to put words on a piece of paper? Everyone has a book in him (or her). Right?
Little do they know (unless they give it a try) how hard it is to make a story flow so the reader is transported to another place and time, or how many times that writer probably wrote and rewrote the sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that read so easily. A well written book won’t give a hint at how the writer struggled to find just the right word that best described the character, location, or action, or how many times that writer deleted
a page of wonderful research or marvelous prose because it slowed the action.
Being a writer means being willing to work on a story for hours, days, months, even years without knowing if it will ever be published or read; being willing to put it out in public to be rejected or criticized; and being willing to do all that work with no promise of financial gain. I’ve met wanna-be writers who have joined organizations I belong to or taken classes I’ve taught who are gung-ho to write a book. Some of these people are actually very good writers (better than I’ll ever be) and have great ideas for stories, both fictional and non-fiction, but after a year or so they drop out of the organization or never finish what they
Life has gotten in the way, they say. Something else came up. And it’s probably true. But life has gotten in the way of a lot of published writers, and things will always come up. The reality is writing is hard work with little promise of fame and fortune. For many the need to write doesn’t equal all of the negatives.
But for many of us, the need outweighs the negatives…and we just can’t stop.
Still…I think it’s far more fun to be “the author” rather than sit here at the computer and be “the writer.”