Monday, February 22, 2010

Writer vs. Author

I think I had an epiphany about writing.

I was reading the March issue of Runner's World of all things when I had it. On the very last page there is story about Apolo Ohno, the Olympic speed skater who is from Seattle (even though the article says Salt Lake City -- what's up with that?).

I didn't know this, but he didn't make the Olympic team on his first try (1998). What? He says he was at his lowest point after that happened (or failed to happen). Then, he says, this:

"One day, in the middle of a rainy, cold run, I stopped and asked myself how much I wanted to be a speed skater. If I was going to fulfill my dream, I knew that I needed to finish my run, no matter how many blisters I had or how bad I felt. That was the turning point for me." (Runner's World, March 2010)

How much do I want to be a writer?

Wait, that question is too vague. I am a writer. I write every day. All the time. I do lots of blogging, but I also start many stories (and never finish them), and journal in about 50 different notebooks that I have all over the house. I'm even lucky enough to have a part-time job writing. So, even when I'm away from my laptop, I'm writing.

What I need to do is define what I want to be. For example, I want to be a marathoner. So, I'm putting in the hours and the training, and like Mr. Ohno, I'm toughing it out, blisters and all.

What kind of writer to I want to be? A freelance magazine writer? A newspaper columnist? A professional blogger? Write for Web sites? A chick-lit author? Do I want to write YA? A memoirist? Or, do I want write about my favorite genre to read?

Picture books. I love them. No, I adore them. I absolutely coudn't wait until I had a child to read to. An excuse to buy picture books. I keep coming back to this genre (and I'm talking about over several years here).

So I've decided. I want to be a picture book author. The problem is, I keep straying from the genre whenever an idea for something, anything blows through my brain. But how much do I want to be a picture book author?

That is the question.

The answer isn't quite as easy as the one for how badly do I want to be a marathoner? Answer: enough to sacrifice time with my husband and son, and endure physical pain and self-doubt.

Hmmm. Actually, that doesn't sound that much different than what I would've written for the picture book question. Swap "emotional" for "physical" and I think I've got something here.


  1. Great post Kerrie! I've come to a similar realization the last little while. You've got to want it for yourself and be disciplined enough to pursue your dream. No one is going to be looking over your shoulder making sure you get published, it's all up to you. Fortunately, I think that if you have the discipline to be a long distance runner, you also have the discipline to be a writer. Running long distances is mentally tough & you've got to put the hours in, push yourself and really want it. Same with writing.

    Murukami wrote a good book about long distance running & writing (What I talk about when I talk about running) and the similarities between the two disciplines. I had a few ah ha moments while reading it & would recommend it to anyone with these two interests.

    Good luck with the picture books... you've got a great test audience who is young enough to tell you the absolute truth!!

  2. Oh wow! This gave me an epiphany! Your thoughts about scribbling in notebooks, blogging, etc. I've never felt like a 'real' writer, but how true - I write all the time. I mist be a writer. The real kind!

    Great post. :)


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