Writers and Authors

[originally posted at Toasted Cheese]

I just saw that Stephenie Meyer has a new book coming out. It turns out to be a Twilight-tie-in book. And that’s when this occurred to me…

No doubt you’ve heard writers say something like “I write because I have to” or “even if I never get published (again), I wouldn’t stop writing.” IOW, writing, being a writer, is part of who they are, it’s something they have always done, and will always continue to do because they enjoy (or get something from) the process of writing as much as the finished product (and its associated rewards).

OTOH, you have people like Meyer, who had not written anything prior to the Twilight series. I’m highly doubtful that she’ll produce anything of note that’s not Twilight-related (although she may try). Part of this is being typecast, of course; nothing she does (JK Rowling has the same problem) is going to be able to match that first hit.

Of course, both Meyer and Rowling have enough money that they never have to write another word again, if they don’t want to. But if they’re writers at their core, we would have no doubt that they would continue writing regardless of the fact they’re now filthy rich or that readers aren’t interested in anything that isn’t Twilight/Harry Potter.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe this good/bad writing argument we’ve been having is not really about good or bad writing. Maybe it’s about writers vs. authors. Everyone expects a stack of JD Salinger manuscripts to show up sooner or later because everyone thinks of Salinger as a writer. He could stop publishing, but no one believes that he could stop writing. OTOH, if you read Dan Brown’s Wikipedia entry, it’s pretty clear that while he’s an author, he’s not a writer per se. He just kept trying different things until one of them worked out for him—and it happened to be writing novels. It could just as easily have been music or acting or something else.

Is this making sense to anyone besides me?