Sunday, May 29, 2011

Author vs. Writer

At the meeting of the Headwaters Writer's Guild today, Nancy added a prompt to the several Judy had sent. Nancy's prompt was simply: What's the difference between a writer and an author?

I have thought about this question before. In the past, I've always considered myself to be a writer, never as an author because I wasn't published. The label "author" seemed like a stuffy title, a glorified name for someone who writes and is widely published.

In reality, "writer" and "author" are one in the same. An author, according to Webster's Dictionary, is "one who writes or composes a literary work."  A writer is "one who writes, especially as a business or occupation."

I am an author and a writer. As funny as that sounds, knowing that makes me feel important. True, it doesn't help me get my novels out there faster, but it makes me hopeful.

Lately I've been grounded. An injury I sustained last fall has resurfaced and I find I am in pain frequently, unable to do my usual gardening or even walking and bike riding with my kids. No, I'm not seeking sympathy. I am dealing with it and hope to be back to normal before summer. What it has taught me, however, is patience.

I have a stack of unpublished, unedited novels taking up space in my "office" that I would like to polish and submit. Life has taken me away from spending one-on-one time with them lately, but I'm trying to change that. Being stuck on the couch for a while (if I don't take it slow and easy, I suffer!), I have more opportunity to focus my energies on them. One simply needs "filling out" and the other is in the polishing phase.

Coming back to the whole "writer" vs "author" concept. I think a writer is someone who writes for the sheer enjoyment of creating. An author, is someone who takes that enjoyment a step farther, writing, polishing and sharing their work with the world.

I'd like to think of myself as an author, coming to a bookstore near you...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Pain Drain

I'm in a lot of pain this week. I fell and hurt my knee last fall and twisted my body. Now I'm paying for it.
The gloomy, rainy weather we've had lately doesn't help, nor does stress, but I'm tolerating it and dealing with it. Hopefully, the aches and mucscle spasms will be a distant memory soon!

Sometimes pain can block us, mentally and creatively, and things that we normally do and take for granted seem like Herculean tasks. Even writing. It's not as much the writing, actually, as sitting comfortably and not feeling like daggers are stabbing your joints. Pain is one more distraction that can lead to writer's block if you let it.

I have a day off today (thank you rain!) and am trying to use it to edit. My tools are all assembled and my rough copy is open to the right page, but...procrastination has set in. Briefly. I had a couple of blogs to attend to. I know that I only have three hours of peace before the little people come home from school.

Pain be damned! I have a pillow at my back. The laptop at a good height and a bottle of water on standby. All I need now is to get off the Internet and work before the next load of laundry is done...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Still going...

My past two weeks have been spent editing and doing a bit of a re-write of Date with a Dead Guy. Not that I didn't like the story or anything, but I had an epiphany after a rough day at work and decided to change the point of view. I took my third-person narrative and turned it into first-person. So far, I'm about half way there. I've edited the original, but need to flesh the resulting story out to polish it. How do I feel about altering my baby that way? I love it. I always had problems with the original and find the new version much stronger.

The other novel I'm working on is The Bookstore Lady. The story's been through many changes, but it is getting stronger. Before long, both novels will be making the rounds of agents and publishers one more time.

I had lunch with a few friends the other day. One of them asked how many books I've written. I was actually at a loss. More than two, less than twenty. Some I'm working on now to polish and submit for publication. Not an easy feat with three kids, a job, housework, volunteer responsibilities and laundry.
There's always laundry. 

Writing the novels is the easy part. I love putting new story lines and characters onto paper and falling in love with them all. I love the sounds of pen scratching paper, keys clicking while I type and the voices in my head.
Creating new worlds and putting the things I know or think on paper...priceless.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Passages of Time

As tends to happen in spring, things grow. Along with the flowers and weeds, my family responsibilities are taking me away from both writing and the group for a while - at least until late summer or fall. One of the remarkable things dragging me off this spring is watching my oldest son compete in several regattas with the Island Lake Rowing Club. He is a second-year (junior) rower and today I had the pleasure of watching (from VERY close up in a coach boat) his strength and determination while he and his teammates, who are juniors, race a boat load of seniors. True, the younger team had a 20 second head start, but they gritted their teeth and actually tied the older team. A first for them this season.

What amazed me the most about being on the lake was that time stood still. The swallows still swooped, the boats still moved and the water still jostled us, but it seemed like we were out there for hours when it was only one hour. It seemed like we had circumnavigated the globe at top speed, yet it was only a few kilometres. How deceiving.

Writing is a lot like that. How many days have I written dozens of pages only to discover it's only been an hour since I sat down? There are times when things go smoothly and the words flow like honey from our fingers. Of course, there are many other days when we push so hard that we hit the wall. I saw an example of that today as well. One of the rowers pushed himself so hard that he literally collapsed. Those are the days that we need to, as the rower did, sit back, take a deep breath and wait for our second wind.

As I watch my children grow, I am amazed by their differences, their similarities and their passions. I am blessed to join them on part of their journey and, in turn, learn a lot more about the world. I help them learn what they need to learn, refine their skills and make sure they get to practice on time. I find that the less I push, the easier it is to get through to them and help guide them.

With my stories, I write, I research, edit and polish. Each one is different from the last. Each one causes its own grief and pleasure. When I stop pushing is when the words and energy flows. I find that in order to write a good story, I need to relax the hunched shoulders and focus on nothing - which is usually easier said than done.

So, fellow writers, the way I see it is our mission is not to push until we drop from exhaustion. It is to release the stories and ideas from our minds, not coaxing or coercing them into life, but letting them live. Like children.

To all of the Moms out there.
Happy Mother's Day!
Hang in there and keep writing.