I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. Growing up, it was stories, yearbook captions, reports, and speeches. In college, it became short fiction and TV news. As a professional writer, it’s been articles, blogs, and scripts for TV and film.
For many people, the terms writer and author are interchangeable. But as I struggle with how to share my big news, I realize that they are very different things, at least to me.
As a writer, I can be associated with a lot of things. I can be brainy in one essay, whimsical in another, without having to explain to anyone that those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I can write a script for a TV host, expecting she will put her own spin on my jokes and make them her own. I can write a screenplay knowing the identity of the finished film will be shaped by a dozen other people.
As an author, my identity is the book. It’s shaped by the editor and publisher, of course. But it’s inherently mine, and in that, a solitary, revealing experience. For someone who loves being what my husband calls a “genre-buster,” that’s an uncomfortable prospect.
I’m proud of “The Name of the Game.” It celebrates what I value: love, laughter, friendship, and family.
But it also includes some serious smooching. And a stripper. And an adult toy that looks like a giant green bean.
All of these things are portrayed humorously, and, I hope, tastefully. But still.
They represent a part of me, not all of me. I am playful and silly and not at all a prude. I am also earnest and intellectual and contemplative.
As a writer, I have no trouble navigating both sides of my personality. As an author, am I limited to being this one side of myself, the one who created more than a few hot-and-heavy moments — and a lead character who frequently gets foodstuff stuck in her hair?
I think of myself at twenty, wondering where my talents would lead me. I could become a journalist or an actress or a writer of literary fiction. I could take on serious pursuits or flutter between creative endeavors. I was still the age where I thought I could be all things to all people.
But as Roz says in a great episode of “Frasier,” “That’s the whole point of being twenty. You could be anything.” She goes on to say, proudly, “I’m much older than you; I am things.”
So instead of focusing on the thousand versions of myself I could be, I’ll embrace that I am something: an author of a romance novel. But one that I hope will be seen as both playful and earnest, silly and thoughtful. Just like me.