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Monday, March 14, 2011

Hello, My Name is Brenda, and I am a . . .

Writer? Author? Scribe? While I still prefer the term PenMonkey*, it doesn't quite look right on a business card. (*term courtesy of Chuck Wendig)

There's a lot of discussion about writers "owning" their title. So many of us shy away from telling people that we write, as if we aren't "real" writers because we aren't published or only have a few publishing credits.

But today I'm going to assume that you, like me, own your title. You admit that you write.

Great. Admitting it is the first step. But now that you've cleared that hurdle, how do you admit it? What terminology do you use?

I generally just say, "I am a writer." But when I "got serious" about my writing and started "building my platform," I noticed most writers use the term "author."

I know part of it is just preconceived notions. For example, when you hear, "Bob is a biker," you probably picture him as a big dude in a leather jacket, probably with tattoos, probably with a mustache. Of course, Bob may be 5' 2" and wear polyester Urkel pants pulled up to his chin. But the label calls to mind a certain preconceived notion of what a biker "should" look like (or how he behaves).

And maybe that's my problem with using the word author to describe what I do: I picture Hemingway, Eudora Welty, etc.

Or maybe it's just the sound of the word itself. I usually pair it with an adjective, and some pairs sound better than others:

Horror writer rings better than Horror author;
Romance writer rings better than Romance author;
Children's author rings better than Children's writer;

As a matter of fact, "writer" generally sounds more musical to the ear than "author" when tied to most adjectives.

So maybe "writer" is the better word.

However, when used without the adjective, author generally sounds better:

Official website of author Brenda Kezar

sounds much better than

Official website of writer Brenda Kezar.

So maybe that's why "author" sounds better when describing the literary giants: they don't usually have that extra adjective dragging them down.

So am I just picking nits with this whole thing, or have some of you ran into the same problem? And what do you call yourself?

4 comments:

  1. I have always called myself a short story writer, but you are right about author sounding better when no adjectives are present. It's kind of like the debate between artist and craftsperson.

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  2. Very true!

    I've always had problems with labels. When one of my daughters went through a fashion phase, I incorrectly described it as goth-fashion. She quickly and angrily corrected me: "Mom! I'm not goth, I'm emo!"

    "Yes, honey . . . emo you definitely are." :)

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  3. I usually say writer - but author if a book title is involved in the phrase. Oh, dear. Hope that isn't too grand!!

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  4. That's a good point, Deborah. I think you're right that it sounds better:

    Stephen King, author of "The Green Mile"

    versus

    Stephen King, writer of "The Green Mile."

    The situation just gets more and more complicated, lol.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

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