Earlier this week I took PTO from work and dedicated much to the day to watching a thunderstorm roll in from Lake Michigan and writing/re-writing parts of my memoir.
As it thundered and rained, I thought about being at home to write and how much pleasure having uninterrupted time to write gives me. I’m lucky though, I write for a living in the field of public relations. I write profiles of donors, stories about grantees, speeches, notes for speakers at events, letters to donors, copy for the internet and other professional pieces. I also am a citizen reporter for The Rapidian. In that volunteer role, I report on whatever interests me–running, authors, artists and musicians mostly. It is the most enjoyable volunteer work I can imagine.
When I’m working on my memoir, I am an author. I tried to think of what the difference between writer, reporter and author are. I formulated an idea, ever so slightly based on one idea lifted from Michel Foucault (who is much more thoughtful on this than I ever want to be). As a author, I am creating something new, of lasting value and something that will (hopefully, when published) outlive me. When I look at my PR writing and my reporting, I know that these pieces won’t stand the test of time. They’re good, they’re memorable, but by my criteria (new, lasting value, will outlive me) they are not author pieces.
When I first began writing Noah’s story, I did it, in part, because I wanted a record of his life to exist. After Mike and I are dead, who would remember him unless I told his story? I want Noah to outlive me, which is pretty much what all parents want for their kids right?
Noah’s death made me an author.