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Terminology, Time Change, and Common Sense

The first week of November is a busy time! It starts off with National Authors’ Day, which affects only a relative handful of people, but the highlight of the week, the end of Daylight Saving Time, affects everyone. It pays to use common sense amid all this mind-boggling activity!

November 1, National Authors’ Day, has stirred a semantic debate over the difference (if any exists) between the meanings of the words writer and author. In my own mind, this is not an issue. Authors are also writers. Period.

But some people insist on creating a difference. They are adamant in their insistence that an author is someone who is more special than and superior to any lowly writer because, they argue, an author is someone who has been published. On the other hand, anyone can write. A writer simply scribbles twaddle and cannot get it published because it’s just not “up to standard.” And by “published” such argumentative types mean traditionally published, not independently or self-published. And that creates two very different classes. It makes the author part of a small, elite group of superiors.

The people who make this argument are usually people who have, indeed, been traditionally published. They have “arrived,” so to speak, and are therefore somehow superior to those who have not. I once worked where this issue was pressed to the point that the group who had once been called “authors” were demoted to the lowly realm of being mere “writers” because a few of the more sensitive type were jealous that some of their coworkers who had been contributing to the books they turned out had not had their own books traditionally published.

Hogwash, I say. There are writers and there are published writers. There are good writers and there are lousy writers. There are also a whole lot of “authors,” traditionally published, who are lousy writers! If you doubt that fact, just peruse the books in your local library or bookstore. The shelves are filled with them. Admittedly, there also are a lot of lousy self-published, or independent, writers. But there are some great ones, too. Many of the literary greats of the past self-published. So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

I consider myself a writer, but I’m also an author by the foregoing argument. I’ve had scores of articles published and several books. (My books, both traditionally and independently published examples, can be found on Amazon at But that doesn’t make me somehow better at the craft than anyone else who is a writer but has not yet been traditionally, or even independently, published.

We need to use common sense and look at ourselves as we really are. We are all writers struggling to do our best to get our message out to our potential readers in a manner that helps them understand and respond appropriately to that message. We must quit measuring ourselves by ourselves or against others and just do the job we’ve been called to do. As Will Rogers said, “We’re all ignorant, just on different subjects.” Similarly, no one is a perfect writer; we can all learn and benefit from each other. So stop quibbling over semantics. Just do your duty to the best of your God-given ability, and let God determine where we rank according to His standard. After all, only His judgment really counts.

That said, don’t forget that November 4 is the end of Daylight Saving Time, so set your clocks back one hour Saturday night (or, if you’re a purist about it, at 2:00 a.m. Sunday). Remember the adage “Spring, up; fall, back.” You’ll be able to “fall back” into bed and get an extra hour of sleep. Or, if you’re too wired, you can stay up later than normal Saturday night to catch up on all the work you keep saying you never have time to complete.

And that same day, November 4, is “Use Your Common Sense Day.” That’s puzzling to me. Shouldn’t we be using our common sense every day? Obviously, many (most?) people don’t, so I guess that helps explain why we’re in the mess we’re in today. After all, as the saying goes, “Common sense isn’t very common today!” Maybe that also explains why some people (“authors”) make such a big deal of creating an artificial distinction between “authors” and “writers!”

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