Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm a Writer, Not an Author

We all have things that annoy us, little grievances against the idiosyncrasies of others or life.  One, for me, is the widespread use of the word "author."  

My English professor in college, Dr. Robert Bland, brought this to my class' attention over twenty years ago.  He held that it was wrong for a person to describe himself as an author because author comes from the word "authority."  It's self-aggrandizement for a person to call himself an authority on something (even if he is).  It's for others to call him an author.  For himself, "I'm just a writer."

Remember: just because a person wrote words to form a book it doesn't mean he's an author on the subject.  "Writer" is safer because he can be a poor writer or an excellent one.  How can one be a "poor authority?"  A person is either an authority or he isn't one.  Let others decide for themselves if he is.

There are other words that, if used, should be used only by others to describe us (if they will) and not used by us to describe ourselves.  Take "theologian," for example.  It seems presumptuous for a person to call himself such a vaunted thing as a theologian or, to use the the archaic word, a "divine."  No, we're just Bible students.  Others may (or may not) choose to call us theologians but that's up to them.  Another word is "professor."  We are teachers.  Others may call us professors.