Saturday, February 16, 2008

Am I a Writer, an Author or Just Someone who Writes?

By Christine Thackeray

With my first book coming out, I was told it was important to establish an "internet presence" and so I have made an effort to start a website (which needs a lot more work), join forums and get to know people beyond my little comfortable circle. On hatrack.com I was introducing myself and explained that when my first son went to kindergarten, I started doing marketing analysis. The work was really taking off and I could see it swallowing up all my spare time when I had a moment of clarity. I quit and decided to chase my dream of becoming an author.

Well, apparently I really struck a nerve from the responses I got. One person said there weren't any authors, there only people who liked to write. I thought of Kristen's wonderful column about the driving force in her that constantly flows through her mind creating a stream of brilliant words that must be written down and balked at my own abilities. I have another friend who loves to write stories. Her manuscripts are impeccable, not a single typo, well-written and exciting. She has four or five completed stories of over 120,000 words each and has never so much as sent in a query letter. She is a fabulous writer. When I met her, we decided to start a writer's group. One tidy little woman who would attend loved to write two page sketches of various characters, like portraits in the written word. You could see, feel and taste the texture around them and somehow she would find a subtle moment where in a facial expression or a minor decision, suddenly the entire essence of her protaganist was fully exposed. It was ART!

On the other hand, I met a man who lived in a large mansion. He had made a good living from his books about the founding fathers which I read and thought were flat and technical. (Hope he doesn't read this.) We have all picked up books that we could not believe were actually produced, where the "authors" could barely be considered writers for their poor characterizations and their half-thought-out concepts.

I don't know if Webster would agree with me but I believe an author is someone who is paid for their craft, whereas a writer is someone who has the gift to translate living, moving three dimensional ideas into flat linear two dimensional lines of language without killing their soul. Some of the finest writers are like the woman from my bookclub who has no desire to publish but for other great writers it is a huge disservice not to share their talents with the world.

I read once (sorry I'm not looking it up so you just have to trust me) that an author said he never had to compete against the greatest writers when looking for a publisher, only against the average writers that send their work in. For my first book I had fifteen rejections. I think that is a fair number. My brother wrote a novel and has had only three and given up. Rejection is part of sales. It is hard but remember you only need one "yes."

My dear friend with the many manuscripts is coming to the LDStorymakers convention next month. We are sooo excited and she is going to make a pitch, cross fingers. I just hope that all wonderful writers who truly love what they do will, if they have the desire, reach for their dreams. It is hard, with our creative spirits and love for our 'babies', to feel the sting of a stupid form letter devaluing our time, thoughts and feelings, but, as my mother says, life is hard. Never let the difficulty of a thing deter you if you are sure it is a righteous desire.

1 comment:

  1. You know in the end I think it has to do with your intent. Do you want to get paid (not an evil thing) or do you want to write something that was so compelling to you it almost wrote itself or perhaps both.

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