What Makes Someone an Author?

This is a question that I've turned over and over in my mind. Round and round I go, debating what makes an author.

Do you have to be published? Be querying with a finished novel? Have an agent? 

I have finally decided, no, to all of the above. Having an agent, having a finished novel and querying agents with it, being published...all those may make you an author, but not having those does not make you any less of an author.

Admittedly, it sounds pretentious to introduce yourself as an author. Thereafter follows those embarrassing conversations that go something like this: “Oh, what have you written?” “Um...I’m not published yet.” Weird look, awkward silence. “Oh. Okay then. That’s cool.” 

As a result, I never introduce myself as an author when you are still unpublished. Still, that is what I consider myself, in my heart of hearts. Yet admitting to it in public feels...unbelievably awkward. It’s as though I’m exposing my most private thoughts, and most personal hopes and dreams.

I am not published. I wish I were, but I am not. Yet every day, I get up and write. Every day, I have a plan to write something--even if it’s just one word or editing something I wrote earlier. Every day, if there is honestly not time for me to sit down and write, I am still thinking about writing. I am viewing the world through an author’s eyes, and imagining how the inspiration before me can fit into my work in progress or inspire a new work. I cannot get through one day without thinking something writerly. 

Every day, I make myself into an author. Every day, I renew my commitment to be a writer. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline. But I want that finished project, I want the end result. I have a passion for writing that cannot be written out. I cannot not write.

Even if I never become a published author, I know this: I am a writer.

What makes you a writer? Do you disagree with my analysis? Do you think you aren’t an author until you’re published?