We, who choose to stick words together and call them stories, know that there’s no end to them. Days where you can’t find any words, sure. But they never go away entirely. That’s why they call us writers. If we could make the words go away – and trust me when I say most of us have thought that would be nice, a time or two or even three – we wouldn’t be writers.
There are as many ways to attach words into this spiky ball we call a story as there are words, which leads to more iterations than I have the math for at any time, not just because I’m stringing this batch up before coffee. Coffee hot. You know, I could put an ice cube in there…
Caffeinated beverage drinkable, cat patted because she insisted, back to the words. The problem here isn’t the ability to string them into something a reader might find not only coherent, but enjoyable. That’s something that takes practice, an open mind to critique, and a willingness to admit those words might not be the best choice. Writing isn’t for the public. On the other hand, if you want to be an author. Well. That is different.
Being an author isn’t quite the same as being a writer. Now, you not only have to make with the words, there is marketing, and taxes, and it gets rather overwhelming at times. Because you’ve just stepped into the role of entrepreneur. I don’t care if you are ‘traditionally’ published. You’re not an employee of the publishing house (and given most of those pay for peanuts, if at all, you’re glad you aren’t), you are the owner of potentially valuable intellectual property which, mystifyingly, is some of those strung-together words you tapped out in the middle of the night when you woke up and couldn’t sleep until you’d pulled them out of your head. Just because you can’t help writing, doesn’t mean your work has no value.
Being an author means thinking about markets, how to find them, and what kind of words they like to see set up all pretty like a mosaic on a Pompeiian wall. For some authors this means writing to the taste of editors at publishing houses. For others, it’s looking for readers who like to consume the same things the writer enjoys creating. Finding that niche, or even more exciting, opening a new sub-genre, isn’t easy. It is, however, hugely rewarding to have happen to you. I’ve seen it with two writers I know, one of whom did it on purpose, the other is a trifle bewildered as she wasn’t trying to create anything other than stories she enjoyed writing and reading. I know which of those two I’d prefer being.
Most of us? We can choose: writer, or author? and that makes a difference in how you approach it. Once you start down that author path, though, I’ll warn you. It’s a lot of work. Me, I’m of the opinion that hard work leads to worthwhile things. I mean… easy would be nice. But I know better. In a head full of words, sometimes finding even one is difficult.
(Header image: Pompeiian spaceships by Cedar Sanderson, rendered by MidJourney)