The Difference between an Author and a Writer

(This is an excerpt from an email to a friend of mine  I am sure I may have said this before, but it bears repeating!)

The difference between an author and a writer (in my humble but wise opinion) [Other than one makes money and the other doesn’t] the thickness of their skin

I was working with a ‘writer’ here in Denver, he and I used to go to the same writing group. on the same weekend we both presented our 6 page “master Piece Excerpt’ both of us just knew everyone at the table would revel in the greatness, have nothing negative to say, and we would be declared up and coming super stars. What happened instead, to both of us, our work was give honest criticisms. I would say “harsh” but in truth the criticisms were accurate, and the only harsh part was the fall from the greatness in our own minds to the reality of where our work stood.

Both of us, slightly crushed by this, took our works, thanked our critics and went back to our homes. I drank 2 beers, took a hard look at my work and realized that the pointers that were offered were right, and that while I was not elevated to superstar status, I was accepted, that my work had more merits than flaws. I also learned that as long as that was true and I really sat and listened to people reviewing, and accounted for who they are. I would be fine

My friend on the other hand, he quit the group and is now working solo. In touch with me a bit, but overall not wanting anyone to tell him he’s not great. In a way it’s sad, he is talented, but if you can’t accept that you’re not perfect and NEED help, then that Talent is wasted.

It’s hard to do when your story is an extension of you but treat it like your appendix; a piece of you, but not that important of one. Not that you’re going to let your buddy take it out with his pocket knife, but you know that without it you can still live a productive life.  That separation is going to be critical.  Some people are very invested, and cry at a missing comma or historical fact that’s off, others want to know those things, and sometimes they are willing to prove they are right [I had to do that with Ekmuu, someone actually challenged my ‘dates’ ROFL – they discovered why the group calls me the professor.]

Between indifferent agents & publishers (both of which are swamped with everything ranging from tripe (60-70%) to quality work (35-25%) to master pieces. (5%)  and people who don’t ‘get your story or writing’  there a dozen ways to get a million paper cuts,  the author powers through, the writer goes back to safety.


18 thoughts on “The Difference between an Author and a Writer

  1. Pingback: The Difference between an Author and a Writer | Rebel Rae

  2. Interesting insight. I wonder how often your friend has been criticized. I’ve been surrounded by people who tell me my writing is amazing, so I’m still developing the thicker skin because my work is finally out to the public. Truthfully, I had my first breakdown this weekend when I was criticized for using present tense instead of past tense. So, I’m not really one to judge a person who takes criticism poorly since I ranted.
    Your post reminds me of the round table beatings in college writing courses where I had to sit there and take everyone’s comments without fighting back. It was maddening and upsetting, but I can see the point of it. Though, I still would have liked to have the ability to use one rebuttal during the exercise.

    • maddening and upsetting, but in a way good practice. when your work is out there you don’t have much control over who thinks what. I know my work is polarizing, people either love the writing and plot and story, or they like the writing but the rest…… Oddly enough one of my bigger critics, I am going to give them a free copy of my book on the condition that they put in the review why they hated it! It will acctually end up pushing sale up.

      • I think I could handle it better if the criticism is explained. I get a lot of vague opinions or the ‘people don’t write in present tense’ argument. I don’t learn anything from something like that. It’s interesting that a negative review can push sales. My worst review is a vague 3-star that simply says my characters and story are good, but it’s hard to follow. I just hope my first 1-star isn’t an insult-filled rant that makes me think the reader is angry over a papercut they got while reading my book. I actually know somebody that gave a poor review to an author because of that.

      • sorry to say I hope my second 1 star is an explitive filled rant about something stupid. as a reader, if the person is crying about a paper cut or because the author parked their car funny – it means they are not credible. in my case the review that I am giving the book to their complaints are “the themes are too adult and your demon’s do not follow christian canon” Complaints like that will push sales I feel.

      • Depends on the reader. This critic is known around the table as the preacher. She points out if your work maybe offensive to strict Christians. I consider it a badge that she now walks out when I present! If you ever read the short rakasha you’d see why.

      • I should point out I would put it where you could just click and get it. But I am trying to sell the story and thats a big no no [no publisher will touch it if its sitting out there] . There are fewer rules about direct distribution. I promise I will remove your email address after I send it to you.

      • so far I am only direct distrubting, not sure where to try to hawk it next. going to submit to some Publications today and get another string of rejections. (maybe not on this one, but we’ll see) hope you enjoy.

  3. Pingback: The Difference between an Author and a Writer | I Am Rebel Rae

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