Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's an author?

I was just trying to read the blog of an arrogant man. It lists all of his accomplishments, and they are impressive. About the author, it says at the left.

Does that make him the equal of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and some guy who wrote a book in 1937?

I was at a writers conference a few years ago and met a couple who work together as writers. They're fairly well-known for their mystery novels. I asked the man what they were in their day jobs. He said they're authors. I said, "You're talking to a man who knows something about this. What do you do in your day jobs." He said they worked for the school system around Charlotte.

But he didn't want me to know that; he wanted to be an author.

We become writers for lots of reasons. Some of us make our living writing for newspapers or magazines or whatever. Some of us scramble around, looking desperately for a few dollars here or there.

Others of us write because we have to. Even when we're not writing, we're looking at the world like writers, listening to the rhythms of conversations and watching the patterns of interactions.

Some people write blogs just to say they're published writers. Most of us wish we could write and publish a novel just to say we did it. No money, just satisfaction.

Some guys don't like to write but like to finish writing. Me? I love sitting at the computer and composing. I'm not a great writer, and I don't think of myself as an author. As with singing, I love to write. I get satisfaction from writing this blog and another one —, but I'd rather get paid for it.

In my last job, I was the sports editor for a small paper. I was doing what I was born to do — putting out a sports section. It required me to write, edit, take photos and lay out pages. It was my perfect job.

The job also provided a sense of self worth; it felt great to go to work, knowing I was useful and good at what I did. I was a newspaperman again.

I've written four non-fiction books, but I don't think of myself as an author.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

Entries from The Dog Blog
Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

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