I recently saw several different heated conversations about what “qualifies” someone to “claim” to be an author or writer. At first, that got my blood pressure rising – the pure ego of asking such a question! Then I realized how meaningless those labels are to me, and calmed the heck down. I don’t care what labels people put on me. I care only how I define myself.
I have several books under my belt, both fiction and nonfiction, both complete books and chapters I was contracted to write. So, if one needs “qualifications” to have an opinion here, as some of those conversations suggested, then I guess I am qualified (enough).
The people who care most about such labels are, in my own limited experience, newer writers who understandably want to feel like they’ve finally made it as a writer (who doesn’t want to feel successful?). Writers can be simultaneously egotistical and insecure. It’s the nature of the beast – writing bares one’s soul, in a way. I think this is the root of the rather pointless arguments I see.
I guess my personal definitions are simple: Writers write, but “author” is specific to a published work. In essence, “I’m a writer, and author of X, Y and Z”. So, while I have written books that have been published, if people ask what I do for a living, I say I’m a writer. Others might say they are authors, and that’s just fine and awesome.
There are enough labels in the world without scrambling to find new ones for ourselves.