Author Vs. Writer - What's Your Title?

Monday, July 06, 2009
by LuAnn Schindler

In 1913, Gertrude Stein wrote the line "A rose is a rose is a rose" in the poem Sacred Emily. And back in 1594, Shakespeare wrote "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Are all roses equal? What makes one rose, say, an author, while another rose is known as a writer? And then there's that third rose, a.k.a. journalist. And the next rose known as a blogger. The roses continue to bloom: copywriter, screenwriter, playwright, poet, columnist, reporter, biographer, essayist, ghostwriter.....

What started this rant comparing roses to titles? In this social networking world in which we live and write, it's interesting to see what titles people use...and WHY they select the self-imposed title. In a post I read, a writer mentioned she had interviewed another writer and included a link to the interview. In the next post, she corrected herself and said the interviewee was an 'author' and she, the interviewer, was merely a writer.

Merely a writer? Aren't the words 'author' and 'writer' synonymous? The definition of the two are the same: a person who generates or gives existence to ideas.

As a writer/author/blogger/journalist/poet/essayist/columnist/reporter, I've generated many ideas and watched them blossom into existence. Isn't that what writers/authors/bloggers/journalists/poets/essayists/columnists/reporters do?

Is there a taxonomy to writer's titles? Is one better than the other? Do we writers use a different term to describe our writing existence to different audiences because we want to be viewed in a certain way? Do we really believe that an author who publishes one book is higher on the proverbial writing ladder than a columnist who produces a 750-word work every week?

When a writer states she's merely a writer in a public forum, what message is sent to her readers and fellow scribes? In my book, a writer is a writer, whether we write a novel, a poem, a column, or a journal, and a writer by any other name does not necessarily smell as sweet.


Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed. said...

Dear LuAnn,

Thanks for your post! It is sad that writers allow others to demote them simply by changing what they are called. I have always identified myself as both a writer and poet because so many folks don't see them as equal. I have worked, also, a journalist, but was once told that, "the little writing thing you do doesn't make you a you think you are Charles Kuralt or something?"

Yup! I let that comment completely deflate me, for a moment, and then I rose up and fought back.

When, I asked, was the last time this person wrote anything more than a laundry list? They didn't even like to sign cards sent to folks...they would have their spouse do it.

As an educator of writing, I ALWAYS tell my students that the moment they put their thoughts on paper, they are writers. The degree to which their writing excels depends on how much they read and write. The more they read and write, the better a writer they become, and, it doesn't matter one iota what synonym you put with it!

Thanks, again, LuAnn.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been feeling a little down lately, wondering if I truly am a writer. Now I know! I write everyday! My living is made writing - granted most of the jobs are not "dream jobs" but I am doing what I like. I am a writer, author, poet, blogger, journalist and they all smell the same to me :)

Carla Michelle

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