Copy of a guest post I wrote for Say What, Savannah Mae? on June 27
I’ve always struggled with calling myself an author or even, at times, a writer. I tend to think of myself as a storyteller – I just like to write them down.
If this were five hundred or even one thousand years ago, I think I would be just as happy sitting around a hearth or an open fire with my family and friends saying, “So, this is what happened….”
But in this day and age, the art of oral story telling is mostly forgotten. We tend to gravitate toward written words that we can enjoy on our own time, picking and choosing what we like most. But does that make everyone who writes a story or tale down an author? I tend to disagree. And I don’t mean that in a mean or spiteful way.
To me, an author is someone that picks and chooses their words carefully. They tend to write prose instead of just words. When I’m reading a book by someone I consider an author, I can happily stop and re-read several sentences over and over again simply because they’re lovely, separate from the information they relay or how they move the narrative on. A good author can have a character open a can of soup and it’s lyrical.
A good storyteller is worth just as much. A good storyteller draws you in with what’s happening, with the characters, with the scenery. The words all propel the story forward and at times you can’t stop reading, it’s so good. You take your book on the train, to your work, on your way to the shower – all because you must know what happens next. You can be both. You can be neither. You can be one or the other.
There are many successful books out there today by great storytellers. But I hesitate to call them authors. As I said, it’s not a slur or a slight – they told a great story! I couldn’t put those books down! But, as far as word choice, usage and prose, I consider it no better nor worse than average.
There are other books out there that are gorgeous in their construction. Each word feels as though it has been hand selected to sit exactly where it does, in that exact sentence, in that precise spot on the page. In those types of books, I almost feel as though nothing needs to happen. I would be content to simply read about things existing.
I’m very happy to call myself a storyteller! I think there’s a magic in crafting a compelling story with characters people care about and empathize with.
But I think I’ll hold off on calling myself an author. For now.