Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Being a Writer versus Being an Author

Joan Didion, by Jill Krementz, 1972.
Being an author is a full-time job, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. I'm making a distinction here between being a writer and being an author--that is, someone who has published a book. As a writer, I get to sit down with my morning coffee in my cozy little den and write. As an author, I have another job, which is to engage with readers (or more accurately, try in every way possible to get them to engage with ME). This morning, I am trying to decide whether to bid on an actual paying job as a writer for an online travel magazine. It's a job that I could do from my home in France—a dream come true! There's only one problem: I am a very slow writer. Slow like a salmon climbing Machu Picchu. So while the job is supposedly part-time, it could easily take over my life, leaving me with a smidgeon of time for writing my next book and a driblet for selling the current one. My dilemma du jour. Come back to see how it pans out. And if you have any advice, post it here.
   P.S. In the process of writing this post, which took most of an entire morning—that's how slow I am—I found the perfect person to commiserate with. Her name is Laura Bogart and she is the composer of an essay entitled The Price I Pay to Write, published by Dame magazine. ("The best thing that ever happened to my writing life," Laura's essay begins, "was breaking my ankle.") What's disturbing is that I have never before heard of either Laura Bogart or Dame magazine, which tells me that they, too, are laboring in obscurity. But wait—I eventually found them, didn't I? What led me to the discovery was my search for a photo of Joan Didion, one of my literary heroes, to accompany this posting. (The one above ran at the top of Laura's article.) Why Joan? Because she is the first person who ever told me that I would have to spend at least one full year "doing publicity" for my book after I finished writing it. Perhaps in my next post I will share the thank-you letter I wrote her a few months ago.

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