Editor’s Note: Like Monday’s blog post, this is another 2016 Muses and Musings original on the role of the author.
What is an author? Well, it certainly isn’t synonymous with a saint, no matter what certain pretentious nitwits want to believe.
Yet it is a pretty high calling, no matter that it gets used and abused far too often.
So if this blog post scares you just as much as it inspires you, good. That just means it served its purpose.
There’s something very impressive about that designation. Something respectable. Something authoritative.
Until, perhaps, you mention that you write modern fantasy about faeries who live underground and evade secret societies. In which case, I like to point out that I also write very carefully researched historical fiction.
Besides, my faerie books rock.
Yet regardless of the subject matter, the title of author should sound noteworthy – even imposing – when it carries as much responsibility as it does.
And believe me: It carries a lot.
That should be self-evident, especially when it comes to writing non-fiction. Though too often it’s not. I just had to deal with a case of plagiarism at work by someone who should darn well know better – an unfortunately common problem among authors who have deadlines and to-do lists.
Other times, these writers publish opinions as facts without utilizing an ounce of intellectual integrity. They tell everyone that something is true despite not doing any research into the subject or critical thinking about the topic, simply assuming that they’re right or not caring that they’re dead wrong.
That, just as much as plagiarism, is a discredit to the writer in question and a downright disgrace to the role of an author. Moreover, such sins aren’t limited to non-fiction. Creative writers have a bad habit of adopting those baser tendencies too.
To some degree, there’s nothing illegal or even unethical about creative writers appropriating other authors’ ideas. There really is nothing new under the sun anyway, and we’re all inspired by outside influences that have come before us. So there’s no way we can be completely original.
With that said, there are too many books out there that try to piggyback off of others' successes by closely copying someone else’s plot, character profiles and other story elements.
That’s not being an author. It’s being a con-artist, a word that doesn’t sound nearly so impressive – largely because it isn’t.
Then there are those fiction writers who act like their beliefs are unquestionable: as if they have the universe figured out and everyone else should bow down to their vast knowledge banks.
They think their writing makes them an authority on the subject matter even though they didn’t do a single bit of research on the subject. Or at least not nearly enough.
Once again, that’s misusing the position and purpose of authorship, assuming a title when no such thing was earned.
So before you claim the title of author, think long and hard about what exactly you wrote.
It really does mean something.