Writing VS. Authoring
"Are you a writer or an author?"
I used to think this simply meant the difference between being unpublished or published. That's not untrue, but I'm beginning to realize that it's not that simple.
Elizabeth Atkinson talks about the publishing process as "introverts being expected to be extroverts."
Jennifer Crusie has said that getting published is like taking a piece of art and turning it into a can of soup, and if you can't make that transition, publishing is going to break your heart.
Lynda Mullaly Hunt recently told a roomful of hopeful author-wannabes that being an author is about the business side of writing, while being a writer is the about the creative side. And she urged us to protect this creative core of ourselves, to not let it get swallowed up by the business of being published.
Good advice, but how is it possible if you want to be a writer and an author? The 30-70 Rule (presented by Elizabeth Atkinson -- Nov 2018 post) is a time guide that a lot of authors keep in mind as a matter of practicality: 30% of their time is used for actual writing and 70% on promotion/sales/ submissions/social media/etc. That's 70% of the time not writing!!! How is it possible to hold your writing self intact if you spend such a small percentage of your time actually focusing on it?
Six months ago, I quit my job and plunged into a "writing walkabout" to discover more about why I write, and to see if it could it be a real vocation. The discoveries of these last months have gone beyond far my expectations as I've taken classes and workshops, and tried all kinds of new writing (I even tried stand-up comedy!). The main thing that has happened, the wonderful thing that has happened, is that I have discovered that not only do I love writing, but I love it in a whole new and more complex way than I could have realized even a year ago, and can see that growing and developing as I continue to learn and write.
So writing? YES!!!!!!!
But authoring? Hmmmm...
Have you ever read the acknowledgements at the back of a book? That long, long list of people involved in getting a book to press? Those lists intimidate the heck out of me. That's so many people, so many steps, so much work and time. My stomach starts to cramp up thinking of all the emails and revisions and meetings and input and PEOPLE! All those people! And that's after you do all the submission work and find an agent/publisher!
At least I know I'm in good company. I'm not the only one who'd like to pass on all the authoring stuff and just sit at my computer with the sunshine or the rain or the snow outside my window, drinking tea and creating worlds and letting characters romp through them. Or sitting on my bed in my pajamas, not even officially up for the day because I had a spark of an idea as I woke up, so I'm sitting there writing and writing as a new story emerges, thousands of bright-winged words spilling out as I lose track of time.
And then my book would magically revise itself, perfectly phrased and typo-free, and morph a lovely cover and lightly textured pages of recycled, non-chlorine-bleached paper, and somehow, osmosis-like, end up in bookstores and libraries, and no one would actually read except for people who LOVED it, so I didn't ever have to worry about pesky things like critics or social media trolls, or if my family or friends liked it or not.
I'll keep hoping! :)
Meanwhile, as my writing walkabout is ending (practicality demands it!) and I step out again into the unknown, I'll try to focus on the usual: finding balance, staying open to possibilities and opportunities, and doing things one step at a time. And making sure that no matter what authoring might be in my future, that I always remember to make room for what I really love: writing!
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