The Writer vs The Author

Being on a booktour has taught me that I’m a writer, not an author. I’ve learned these past few weeks that I don’t actually like talking about my book, but rather the writing process or books in general. I’m crazy about books, fascinated by creativity, curious about motivation and conflict and the drive to put human experience down on paper (or in music or art). I love talking to readers in bookstores and finding out who they read, which genre they enjoy best, which authors they follow. I love talking to fellow writers, published and unpublished, love encouraging the writing process and exhorting them to stick in there, keep writing and learning, and focusing on craft. Too many writers put the cart before the horse and bone up on the business way before they’re ready to submit (I know. I did this for years). Now I tell writers to write. Get the story in shape, get the craft down, and strive to write with courage and truth, conviction and power and don’t hold back. Be brave. Be daring. Be bold. Writers must jump off that creative cliff each and every day–face one’s fear and just go for it. Go for broke.

This is why I write, this is why I speak to writers, and this is what even non-writers need to know. The good life is the life lived. It’s not publication that matters as much as the journey there. Live richly, live with heart and hope, and no matter what happens at the end of the story, the story will be rewarding.

This is also why I’m a writer, not an author, because being an author is all about the finished book, the cover, the blurb, the copy, the sales, the reviews, the publicity and promo. I want my books to do well, but once a manuscript is finished and the editor has put it to bed, its a story told and the writer in me has to take a backseat to the business of selling, to trends and co-op advertising, to bookstore placement and industry favorites. I can’t control any of the business side–I can barely control my response to the business side–so instead I focus on the next story, the next journey, the adventure whatever it may be.

I have no problem with those who love being authors and enjoy the limelight and the appearances and the life lived in the public eye. But I find it odd and self-conscious, talking about my books, talking about the quality of my own writing and why people should read me. Truthfully, I don’t know if people should read me. I just know that people should live. And live hard.

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