I became curious about the difference between an author and a writer recently. A few folks have suggested that the publication of a piece of my writing in a Canadian national newspaper turns me into an author. From the context, it was clear they meant “elevates” me. I’ve recently learned another piece will appear in the same paper on November 2. I suppose this fact will turn me into a “twice-published” author in the eyes of some.
I went to my handy reference, Google, and found this kernel in “Difference Between”: “You become an author when your books are published, but if your writings never publish, you remain a writer.” The writings are 900-word essays, nowhere close to a book.
In this era of e-books, self-publishing, and blogging, the question of when a person’s work has been published has become more complicated. Anyone can, and many people I know do, write and post their thoughts on the internet, and have them published. Voila, anyone can be an author instantly.
I have a bit of traditionalism in my blood. Should I play it safe and call myself a writer unless I publish a book? Or do I do the audacious thing and call myself an author? I want to suggest, with a curtsy to the radicalism also in my bloodline, that it is time to revisit our insistence on labels and our habit to judge one label or person we are labelling superior to another. In my opinion, writing is an act of courage. It does not matter whether you show what you have written to anyone. Or whether you or somebody else publishes it.
Call me a writer, call me an author. It doesn’t matter to me. I like this quote from American musician and songwriter, Michael Stipe: “My feeling is that labels are for canned food… I am what I am – and I know what I am.”
That is why I prefer if you call me Wilda. I have always mattered, regardless of whether I wrote anything. So do you.