Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Semantics of an Aspiring Author

I recently received a comment on one of my posts from fellow writing blogger Christine Henderson correcting my use of the term "aspiring author". She said:

"Remember, you are not an "aspiring" author if you have already written a story. You are just an yet to be published author."
Is this right? What's the difference? Does it matter?
In the words of  Reverend Lovejoy, "“Ooooh, short answer yes with an if, long answer no with a but…”
I love to cook and, if you'll allow me a moment to brag, I'm a pretty good cook. I also watch a lot of the Food Network. Here's the thing: nothing brings the contrast between what I do in my kitchen and what an actual professional chef does better than an episode or two of The Next Iron Chef or Chopped.  I am not a chef, I'm a cook. If I spend the next few years honing my culinary skills, improving my techniques, and training with a master chef...then I will still be a cook (just a way better cook). During that time I will also be an aspiring chef because I will be aspiring to become a chef. At the moment that my phone rangs and Bobby Flay asked me to come work as his sous-chef, THEN I will be a chef (actually I would be a sous-chef but those people rock too). In other words, when you get paid to cook, when you've actually made it, then you're a chef. At no point during that process would I be a chef that has yet to find a place willing to pay me to cook. That just doesn't work.

So until I get something published, until someone is willing to pay to read what I write, I am a writer and an aspiring author. 
Am I being nit-picky? Does it matter?

Yes! At least it matters to me. I want very badly to be an actual, full-blown, genuine published author. Earning the title "Author" will mean that I have done what I set out to do. It will mean that a goal has been reach, and that matters a great deal to me.

Does it matter to you?



  1. I understand your point, and on some level I don't disagree. As you could probably tell from my post, I still struggle with this issue. :)

  2. My husband is a sales guy, so we play this funny game. He talks about me and calls me an "author," and I try to slip in the word "aspiring" before the other person can respond. For me, it's an expectations thing. People you meet on the street don't tend to consider you an author if you're not published. I am not published; ergo, I am still aspiring.

    But in the end, it _is_ all semantics. I don't consider those who've written a complete something and call themselves authors wrong. I don't consider myself wrong either.

    Regardless, "author" is so overdone anyway. I'm toying with changing my title to Word Ninja. It's more mysterious. I'll wear only black to my book signings.

  3. I can see "Word Ninja" becoming the new standard in writing. In 10 years there will be blogs debating the term "aspiring-word ninja". Bloggers will ask, "Do I really need to wear black to ALL of my book signings?" and "Is it appropriate to give nunchucks to my agent as a thank you when they sell my manuscript?"

    All because of you Cara.


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