Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writers, Authors, Scribblers--Which are You? By Christine Duncan

My blogmate, Michelle Birkby wrote on our Rule of Three, that she will "call (herself) a writer when (she) gets published and paid, and author when ... published and paid on a regular basis." Michelle calls herself a scribbler.

I used to believe that way. Being a writer was something I aspired to be. I didn't call myself one for years. It sounded boastful.

I believe differently now. I am a writer and I've earned the title, not because I have two published books but because I write.

Let me explain.

There are folks who like the idea of writing. They flirt with it like a single man at a hen party. We've all met them. They may not write, but just talk about the book they will write when they have the time. Sometimes they write for a season or a period of their lives--like someone who writes about her painful divorce or crushing relationship.

Sometimes they're decent writers, sometimes not. But they don't stick. Times and lives change and they move on to another dream. My number one rule about whether you are a writer or not is simple. Do you stick?

Whether you are published or not, whether the dog is sick and it's not convenient or you don't feel like it but you made yourself or someone else a promise--writers write.

Michelle is a writer in my book, not only because she writes regularly for our blog but also because she writes fan fiction and short stories and more.

I'm not sure about her distinction between an author and a writer either. As I told her, I don't know anyone who gets a regular paycheck from this. And I know a fair amount of writers. I usually call myself a writer except in those blurbs at the end of an article or blog post.

I do like Michelle's description of herself as a scribbler. It brings to mind an image of Jo March from Louisa Mae Alcott's classic Little Women. Yet still, wasn't there a famous poet who penned her poems on grocery lists and who was never published until after she died? Would that mean she wasn't a writer? Really?

Christine Duncan is the scribbler, no make that writer, oh shucks, author of the Kaye Berreano mystery series. Safe House the second book in the series is available now.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

If you write you are a writer.


Jean Henry Mead said...

My only regular paycheck as a writer was as a news reporter back in the dark ages when we carved our words in stone. :) Actually, news reporting is the most difficult form of writing and I much prefer becoming a novelist. Journalism is a great background for writing fiction but I'm glad that phase of my writing career is over.

Ricky Bush said...

When I finished the last draft of my first novel, I felt that I indeed could call myself a writer. I did what I set out to do. Write a novel. It mattered not whether it got published, because I wrote it and that couldn't be taken away. Now that it has been accepted for publication, gravy has just been added to the potatoes.

Earl Staggs said...

I agree with Marilyn. If you write -- and can't stop -- you're a writer. The word "writer" may be modified by words such as "published," "successful," "rich, "famous," or "failed," but you're still a "writer" simply because you write.