Good Writer. Bad Author. “Wil Right for Foode.”


Part of my new awakening and journey of self-discovery (translated: now that I don’t get paid to write, who the hell am I?), is coming to grips with the fact that I’m a good writer, but I’m a bad author. When I say, “I’m a good writer,” it’s not just me stroking my ego. I can write. I can write well. I write better than most and have independent verification on this point. Yeah, my commas aren’t always in the right places and homonyms still trip me up, but I have a good imagination, sense of rhythm with the English language, and a writing style wholly mine, yet accessible to a wide variety of readers. Still, I’m the most sorry excuse for an author on the planet save the homeless guy who misspelled “Wil Werk for Foode” on his cardboard sign. Wil Werk for Foode

What exactly is the difference in a writer and an author? The answer is more simple than you might think. In a couple of sentences: writers write for any number of reasons. Authors are dedicated professionals who maintain a schedule of writing, querying, editing, publishing, promoting, and banking.

Writers can write anything, any time, anywhere, regardless of marketplace demands, editor’s requests, or reader’s desires. Writers can write as a hobby and still be mighty, fine writers. Writer’s can write with wild abandon. Writers don’t have to depend on their words for food. A simple writer such as this, am I. I have a day job to keep the lights on. Luckily, I like my day job and getting paid to do something you like isn’t a bad hand to be dealt in life.

Authors must be all of the above and have a head for business. Authors approach writing as a job. They schedule writing time and balance it with market research. They are constantly juggling multiple balls. They have a constant stream of queries in circulation. Sometimes, they write what they don’t like simply to get paid and have time to write what they want. They acquiesce to editor’s demands so the checks will get signed. They do all a writer does and they go to the bank with a decent paycheck. It’s when being a writer (something you love) intersects with being an author (the job) that you have a content, possibly happy, individual.

You can be writer, without being an author. I’ve proven that. You can even be an author without being a good writer. You need only pick up a Dan Brown novel for 50¢ at a garage sale to know that. Happily for the readers of the world, most authors tend to be good writers. It is when doing what they like and getting paid for it, we get to enjoy the writer-author’s best work.

So, I’m a terrible author and I’m okay with that. I’m still a good writer. At this point in my life, I’m fine with that. I do what I love and love what I do, all while chasing the odd, little happy. Take a stare in the mirror and tell me, which are you? Are you a writer, author, both or duck-billed platypus?

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7 Comments

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  1. I’m a duck-billed platypus who is an author. Sometimes, I write too.

  2. PS: Your blog would no longer allow me to leave a comment without signing into WordPress, and since I don’t have a WordPress account, I had to sign into Facebook to leave you a comment. It didn’t used to be that way. Name/URL is apparently not an option any more.

  3. I’m a koala. That was an option, right? Oh, so I have to choose. I’m a bad author because I like creating new things, but never finishing them. I’m a careless writer because when I feel like writing, I usually forget to edit or even proofread. And while being a poisonous duck-billed platypus would be cool, koalas have nifty long claws.

  4. I met all your criteria for being a writer but sure would like to knw why the creative spark and passion just vanishes sometimes. I chalk it up to many losses in the last year, from a parent to the shocking, sudden death of a good friend as well as the theft of a cherished book collection. So I guess I am an author in hibernation now? I do trust the spark will return.

  5. And it doesn’t help that I can’t get into Yahoo/AC any more. I still get comments and notifications. But all the Help steps never work. Ugh. I don’t know how much income I am losing.

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