I am a writer but I’m not an Author.
I mean of course I’m a writer, everyone writes. It’s the thing that they taught us in school while we made letters on paper with two solid lines and a dotted line in the middle. It’s the putting together of letters, with distinct letter sounds, into words that sound nothing like the letter sounds that make up the word. It’s the holding a pencil the right way and then flipping it over to use the small pink rubber eraser on the back that has the power to rip your entire page in two. It’s getting to the end of the page but you still have to finish the word so you scrunch up the letters or bend the word or write the rest of the letters on top.
It’s the permanent imprints on your hands from writing left-handed in a spiral bound notebook because it’s just too freaking much to ask that notebook companies make left-handed notebooks. It’s the ink stains on your hands because your trusty 13 cent ball-point pen just exploded in your hand. It’s the cramps in your hands from holding this smaller than a toothbrush sized writing implement for an hour while trying to capture the important words that are coming out of your teacher’s mouth faster than you can figure out how to spell the words that she is saying.
It’s using fancy script because you’re grown now and have to learn how to sign a check like a responsible person despite the fact that even you can’t read your own signature. It’s going through multiple birthday cards because you wanted to sign “Love, your best and always forever snugglepumpkin” and right about the time you got to forever, you wrote a ‘w’ instead of a v and that just won’t work. I mean really, what kind of friend writes ‘forewer’ on a Passover/Kwanzaa/ Ramadan/Festivus/Samhain/Christmas card? But yeah, I’ve done all that just like you have. So sure, I’m a writer but I’m not an Author.
Well, I guess if you are reading this then I am an author. Huh.
Why would I say that I’m not an Author? What is it about an Author that is not me? Is it something that I had to do or is it just something that I had to believe was possible for me to do? If I accepted that I am not an Author then what does that mean about me? Authors are something…better than me.
They write novels and short stories and series and use metaphors and irony and similes and a bunch of other grammatical terms that I was taught, but never really learned, in middle school. They have vivid imaginations and they create worlds with their words and they plunge the depths of the human soul, right? I mean I can write but what am I compared to that? I’m lucky if I can get through an email or a PowerPoint without sounding like a 10th grader in remedial English class. But sometimes…sometimes I am able to write with eloquence and grandiosity using impeccable grammar and tenor and syntax such that the greatest authors and orators of the canon look down upon me and are blinded by the magnificence of my treatise. Alas, no one uses those words anymore and I’ll never have to take the SAT again, so what’s the use. I’m not an Author.
But you are still reading this and it is in a format that exists without me having to hold it in front of you, so I guess I am an author. Huh.
But seriously, Authors don’t just have moments of brilliance, like you and me. They wake up quoting Shakespeare and speak in iambic pentameter (whatever that is) and write 200 pages a day in between finishing the New York Times crossword puzzle and pimp-slapping muggle children in wizard’s chess. An Author has the words to grab women by the balls and uses them in such a way that it makes skyscrapers erect. Stringing together descriptions of a dusky Pittsburgh afternoon that would make you think Franco Harris was reading the book over your shoulder. Now that is an author. That is a wordsmith. That is a literary God. That’s not me.
Well, I guess if you’ve just read this, maybe it is. Huh.
Why wouldn’t I call myself an Author? What does it mean for me to be an Author? What does that say about who I am if I am an Author? Well it means that I am supposed to be smart, and anyone that knows me knows I can do some of the most dumb-assed things. It would mean that I have to be entertaining, which I could be if you gave me a stage or a microphone or some people in front of me or some background music or something…but with just words, that would be hard. I means I have to be engaging. I can tell you I’ve been engaged and married and divorced and engaging is just not something I’m prepared to do again. It means I have to reach you, the reader, across time and space and language and dialect and culture and context.
So as much as I would love to throw some Princess Bride references in here I can’t because millennials in Kuala Lumpur probably haven’t seen the movie and it is inconceivable that they would understand the references. I mean, I could try to throw in bits and pieces of myself but do you think it will work? It would take a miracle. I would have to be smooth and suave with my words instead of cursing while fumbling around for words like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. Oh shit, I probably just lost my Malaysian readers (I’m kind of a big deal in Malaysia) because they don’t grow wheat. So I might have to go with Catcher in the Palm, but that sounds too much like a Skinimax B-movie pseudo-porn.
See? I’m not good at this stuff. I can’t be an Author because no one would buy what I’m selling. I mean really, who would spend their time reading about how bad we are, how uneducated we are, how poor we are, how untalented we are, how crass we are, how deplorable we are, how bleeding heart we are, how traditional we are or how irreverent we are? I’m not Fox News, MSNBC, GOP, DNC, CNN or any other popular letter combination. They’ve got properly trained, long-experienced, consonant-sharpened writers. Writers? Hey, I’m a writer too. But I’m not like them, I’m not that…good. I suck so I may be a writer but I could never be an author.
But I guess I am one now. Huh.
What else am I?