Almost every writer, from the time the first crayon and construction paper book is taped together with The End on the last page, dreams of being an author. You can still see the picture in your head of what you look like as an author. What does it really mean to be an author?
Welcome to Day 1 of the
A to Z Challenge.
A is for Author.
If we go straight to our Go-To definition, it will let the wind out of our sails by letting anyone who writes an article about anything, masterminds a crime or creates a piece of software call themselves author. Let’s go with the stricter, second definition which the largest part of the writing community accepts as a writer of a literary work (as a book).
As loose as the definition is for author, we must speculate and in the end draw a conclusion.
Your Mother’s Basement
Is the person who writes the 250,000 word opus in a series of spiral notebooks, journals and sticky note pads an author?
The boos and hisses from the crowd should be interpreted as a resounding No.
Monetize Your Blog
Is the person who pasted 42 blog posts into a Word document, as is, and slapped on a 72 ppi cover created with a mouse in Paint an author?
You really are a tough crowd. That would be another no.
Is the person who gathers together their articles on ways to cheat at pick-up-sticks, dandruff discomforts, the digestive benefits of guar gum and a signature method of washing Pomeranian puppies under the title Collected Works of Jack O. A. Trades, Esq. an author?
See, I am with you there. That level of eclecticism escapes everyone being asked to fork over $16.95 when they only care about one subject.
My Life & Times
Is the person with the 99 cent eBook entitled What’s for breakfast? A memoir of my meals really an author?
Stop throwing shredded wheat. No, no one cares what you ate for breakfast for the last 22 years.
If we do not think any of these powerhouse penners are authors, what is an author? We are not debating the actual writing, or are we?
In fact, we are attacking the writing rather than the person. There is a general consensus what we write must offer some value in exchange for the currency. This would be the literary portion of the work.
- Mommy’s basement dweller has not packaged the work into a salable form.
- The blogger has not engaged an editor or offered anything geared toward the reader with a paperback or tablet in absence of the audience to whom the blog post was geared. Charging for something which is readily available for free is a mite insulting.
- The essayist is aggregating information too far flung to appeal to any other person.
- The memoirist offers nothing unique which would interest a reader, such as how breakfast enabled him/her to become a world champion at something besides oatmeal eating. This content is also free on social media; what do you want to bet?
Let’s face it. By definition, all of these writers are authors. We can classify them as bad authors.
This too to remember. If a man writes clearly enough any one can see if he fakes. If he mystifies to avoid a straight statement, which is very different from breaking so-called rules of syntax or grammar to make an effect which can be obtained in no other way, the writer takes a longer time to be known as a fake and other writers who are afflicted by the same necessity will praise him in their own defense. True mysticism should not be confused with incompetence in writing which seeks to mystify where there is no mystery but is really only the necessity to fake to cover lack of knowledge or the inability to state clearly. Mysticism implies a mystery and there are many mysteries; but incompetence is not one of them; nor is overwritten journalism made literature by the injection of a false epic quality. Remember this too: all bad writers are in love with the epic.”
― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
In today’s world of self-publishing, becoming an author is as simple as submitting the contents of a word processor document to a publishing platform and pressing a radio button. Even some of these authors’ mothers would tell them they were not authors until someone bought their books. The majority of the writing community would agree with Mom on this point.
In conjunction with the ongoing Better Writing series, this year’s A to Z Challenge on The M3 Blog is going to investigate, unveil and utterly demystify becoming a successful author. While it cannot imbue you with talent, it will give you a number of stepping stones along the path to creating, producing and selling a book. In short, becoming an author.
What are your qualifications for one to call oneself an author? Have you seen examples of bad authors? (It is okay if it is you. Help is on the way.)
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© Red Dwyer 2013
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