All Whiskey Is Not Bourbon – All Writers Are Not AuthorsPosted: April 26, 2012
I was contemplating the subject of author-versus-writer recently when I was drawn to a Tweet from Joel Friedlander called The New World of Publishing: Writer vs. Author taken from the blog of Dean Wesley Smith. While not exactly along the lines of my thoughts on the subject, it is well worth the read. His primary, and accurate, distinction is that authorship is focused on a past accomplishment while writing is an on-going, forward-looking process. The application to the world of independent writers/authors is that the author mindset is focused on the success of the last book. The writer mentality is to get the old book out there and move on. To paraphrase Mr. Smith from the writer’s perspective: The best promotion for the old book is the next one.
I think all writers (especially independent writers) must consider how they invest their efforts. I don’t think any writer relishes the thought of promoting his book, but then unless he is content to shut it up in a drawer, someone has to do some promotion. It is easier to make the case for just writing and getting it out there after a writer is established and has a following. How to bridge that gap is not insignificant.
I was dining with friends at a neighborhood restaurant the other evening. The conversation touched on many topics. One question that arose involved the difference between bourbon and whiskey. I stated that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon–enlightening my friends with my limited knowledge of the standards that a whiskey must meet to be called bourbon. That statement about bourbon versus whiskey came to mind as I considered the topic of writers and authors. While the analogy breaks down very quickly below the surface, it has at least a couple of similarities. All authors start out as writers (all bourbon starts out as whiskey), but there are distinct qualifications for the use of the former name in both cases. The author must have completed a work–book, short story, etc. That accomplishment establishes the person as an author. The whiskey must be distilled from a mixture of at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred-oak barrels to be called bourbon. But the significant point as I see it is that without whiskey, the distiller could not create bourbon. Likewise, without writers there could be no authors. More to the point regarding writers and authors, one is not better than the other. Unless the author quits writing and is content with the past work, the two are not independent from one another.
The role of writer versus author in this context of promotion and focus is a fundamental distinction every independent writer should consider, whether the writer has yet become an author or not. Still (pun intended), the primary ingredient is the writing. From there it’s all in the distillation.