The online Cambridge dictionary defines an author as:
author noun [ C ]
UK /ˈɔː.θər/ US /ˈɑː.θɚ/
Well, you can’t argue with that, can you? The second question, ‘Should you diversify’ might cause some lively discussion, though.
When I started writing (I’ve been dabbling since my teens, but I didn’t begin writing seriously and ‘with intent’ until I had lived for almost half a century) I imagined that I one day I would write books. Stories, short-form or long, which would be published in the traditional way. Since then, the world has moved on (oh, how it has moved on! What I would have given for a laptop and Word in my teens…). who had heard of the word ‘blog’ in the late seventies/early eighties? Twitter and Facebook weren’t even in a twinkle in the mind’s eye of their creators (who may not have been born then).
In days gone by, an author would submit a manuscript to their agent, who would (hopefully) secure a publishing deal. Once the work of writing/editing/polishing was done, an author might have to turn up at various publishing house functions to promote their work, perhaps be interviewed by the literary media if they were successful… But nowadays, even traditionally-published authors have blogs, some also have social media sites… it’s all about getting yourself ‘out there’. So just how important is it for an author to diversify? By diversify, I mean: writing a blog, writing copy for your social media sites… but also penning screenplays, stage adaptations, radio drama…
William Faulkner, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Aldous Huxley, William Goldman, Mario Puzo, Michael Crichton, Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, John Steinbeck… and more recently Nick Hornby and Gillian Flynn, have all written books and screenplays. In some cases, they adapted their own work for the screen.
I’ve dipped a toe into screenwriting waters – I entered three scripts in Create50’s ‘The Impact’ project (and learned a lot from it), and wrote the voice-over script for my novel ‘The Methuselah Paradox’. I’m currently collaborating on an adaption for the stage, and am also turning one of my short stories into a graphic novel (and if all goes well, an animated feature). I see each project as an opportunity to learn, and to create something different. Each discipline has its own rules, but at the core it is all about telling a story. The mediums might be different, and perhaps I’ll discover that I’m better suited to one or the other; but I will never know if I don’t try! Here’s another definition for you: Polyglot.
knowing or using several languages.
“a polyglot career woman”
a person who knows and is able to use several languages.
“Slovenians, being surrounded by many countries, are mostly polyglots”
So why not be a polyglot? Novels, screenplays, stage productions, graphic novels, radio plays… when all is said and done, they have two things in common. They are all stories, and regardless of whether they are in the language of film/TV, live theatre, the written word, or picture books, they seek to entertain/inform. Exploring the different facets of one story through different mediums is fascinating, and presents a challenge for any writer.
So my answer to the question ‘how much should an author diversify?’ is “As much as possible, if you enjoy it!”. What do you think? Have you tried turning your book into a film, or a stage play, or a comic book, and if not, why not?
Answers on a postcard…. or maybe something bigger!