15 September 2014

Writers and Authors

Whew! That last post on Scottish Independence went well. That's if abuse is any measure of wellness. I was accused by someone Scottish of 'using OUR freedom debate to advertise YOUR tosh.' The capitals are his. Well, I was only expressing an opinion. If the rest of Scotland are feeling so tetchy no wonder the result is going to be a close run thing.

Back to safer ground, then. Tosh about writing.

I have found that there is a class system being applied to writers. It goes something like this, from bottom to top. From lower class to top class.

Lowest form of writer: Aspiring writer

This is someone who would very much like to write but is waiting for their circumstances to change. They tell me things like 'I'd love to write but I'm so busy' then they indicate some change in their circumstances that will allow them to write. These range from a lottery win to retirement. The urge to write is there, without any doubt, it's just being kept down below the threshold where it might actually become active.

Next level up: Writer

is a person who writes. In other words it's most of us. Anyone who puts pen to paper or finger to keyboard. What we write doesn't have any merit, even in our own eyes. (See previous post on Scottish Independence for an example)

Then we come to: Author

who is a writer who has actually finished something. It doesn't have to be a full length novel to qualify, it can be a short story, flash fiction. For heaven's sake, a neatly written note to the milkman might even qualify, but that's pushing it a bit too far. Poems might count, though I have my prejudices and won't be drawn further on that subject.

Top of the pile: Published Author

who is a colossus amongst us mortals. This is a writer who has had their work purchased by a publisher and can stand proud and tall, if not exactly rich. The published author is the pinnacle of aspiration, the Everest of achievement, the flagpole of desire for a writer.

Then there's the Self-Published Author. Where do they fit in the hierarchy? Public perception places them at absolute rock bottom. Below everybody and everything else. These are 'writers' who have had the temerity to inflict their dribblings on the outside world. They've bypassed the gatekeepers of taste and quality. They've let themselves loose without permission. Nobody can be safe from their vanity.

So, where are you on the list? I'm somewhere between the top and the bottom. In fact I'm all of the above.

It doesn't matter where you are as long as you feel the urge to write and respond in your own way.

One word of advice, though. Don't be too hasty in publishing your own work. Once it's out there it's out of your control. So make it the best that it can be. Take your time. Put scripts to one side and let them mature. Don't condemn them too quickly but don't inflict them on others until you feel really proud that they're yours.

Oh, and vote NO if you're living in Scotland. I, for one, would be sad to lose you.

photo credit: Abizern via photopin cc