The Proof is in the Putting-it-out-there: When “Writer” Becomes “Author”

I’m waiting for my proofs to arrive. If that makes no sense to you, don’t worry–three months ago it meant nothing to me either.

Proofs? Thought I left those behind in geometry class.

Turns out proofs are the kinda-sorta first draft of printing. I guess this term works for photography as well. You get your picture taken, you check out the proofs, you choose the ones you like, and those proofs get printed.

In the next couple of days, I’ll receive my book, The Flying Burgowski, in the mail. I’ll comb through it, looking for any piece of missing punctuation or indents or chapters cut off in the middle of the page or….ANYthing wrong that needs to be fixed before my baby is ready for her debut before the reading public.

My baby!

My baby!

To while away the nervous hours until my proofs arrive, my brain keeps running loops around the word “proof.”

“The proof is in the pudding.” Now my brain imagines a scene at Hogwarts:

(Courtesy Flikr Creative Commons)

(Courtesy Flikr Creative Commons)

Wonderful-sounding aphorism, but what does it mean? Yes, you with your hand up? Miss Granger? 

It’s actually a misstatement. The real saying is, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It means, the dessert may look pretty, but you can’t really tell how good it is until you eat it.

Ten points to Gryffindor. Yes. And how does this aphorism apply to the present case? … [sigh] … Yes, Miss Granger?

Your book may look wonderful, but you will only know how good it is once people read it.

Another ten points.

Thank you, Brain, for this amusing illustration. What’s that? You want to talk about another meaning of the word “proof”? Fine. Go ahead.

“Proof” means you have proven something. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the proof has been laid before you! I rest my case.”

So what’s being “proven” here?

That I am no longer just a writer; I’m an author now.

Come again? What’s the diff?

Think about it. If you’re a painter, you paint. If someone asks you what you are and you say “Painter,” the next question is never, “Oh? And have you sold any paintings lately?” No, people want to know what medium you paint in, or do you do landscapes or portraits, or how you learned to paint. But when you tell someone¬†you’re a writer, the next question is inevitably, “Oh? Are you published?”

So…aha. A writer writes. An author is a published writer? Is that what you’re saying, Brain?

I think that’s what I’m saying. But what do I know? I’m just a brain.

So, what do you guys think? Do you agree with my brain? Do you think writers are thought of differently than other artists? My brain and I are very interested in your answers.