November 1, 2011


I recently received a note from one of my Facebook pals who wrote he’d had a letter to the editor printed in a local newspaper. Could he say he was a published author now, he wondered. My response was to congratulate him and add an “amen” to his comment that he wasn’t ready to quit his day job, yet. I also made a distinction for him between being a writer and being an author. “Author” usually refers to those who write books. But either term is laudatory because it describes a person devoted to language and art.   

I’ve been thinking a good deal about the difference between being a writer and an author, lately. A few weeks ago, I finished the third draft on my fourth novel which I’ve been working on for two years. Any form of writing is work but crafting a book can be a long, tedious process with few rewards.

With four books written, I’m weighing the advantages and disadvantages of returning to the short story format. Like the novel it, too, provides a sense of accomplishment, but it isn’t a process that involves promoting the piece once it’s finished. The short story writer simply e-mails his submission to a magazine and waits for a reply. If the answer is yes, he celebrates. If the story is rejected, he sends it on to another publisher until he finds a buyer. The magazine, through its subscriber base, provides the audience. The writer doesn’t have to search for one.  


The short story market has many plusses. One doesn’t need an agent or a publicist and there’s no need to promote the work as if it were a piece of real estate or a used car.  

Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn a lesson. That’s part of the cosmic humor in life. Like the revolutions of the planets, we sometimes end where we began.