Since attending a writing social last Saturday night, something’s been seriously bugging me. Okay, not in the keeping me up at night kind of way. More in the what the hell is wrong with me kind of way. Why can’t I talk to other authors? I’ve brushed it off by calling myself a writerly introvert, which is true, BUT I am not an introvert in general. Actually, talking to total strangers is one of the key components I get paid for at my “real job,” and most of the time I’m pretty effing good at it.
My favorite blog post on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins is: Swagger in the Age of the Author Brand. Inspired by Kristen Lamb’s blog about bad girls becoming best sellers, Swagger talks about how important it is to market ourselves as (kick-ass) authors in today’s saturated, self-published market.
But it’s hard to do when we don’t feel like kick-ass authors.
It turns out that feeling like a fraud is a recurring theme among almost ALL authors, especially us newbies. In the comment section of my last post, Jonathan Giles mentioned that at writing events he often feels that someone taped a sign to his shirt that says “fake,” or “loser.” But, it’s not just the newbies that feel like phonies. DM Miller pointed out that Maya Angelou (coincidentally, one of my all time favorite authors) suffered the same affliction. After writing eleven books, she said she still felt like she could be exposed as a fraud at any time.
All of this self-doubt begs the question: What makes a writer . . . a writer? Since my catastrophic endeavor to network with local authors, I’ve given it quite a bit of thought. This is what I’ve come up with:
A writer is someone, anyone, who writes.
The problem we face with introducing ourselves as writers entirely in our minds. We see the greats: the Maya Angelous, the Agatha Christies, and the Leo Tolstoys, and we wonder how we’ll ever compare. Well, you know what? Many of us aren’t going to achieve that level of grandeur. But that’s okay. Because we’re out there in the trenches. We’re creating something from nothing: putting words on a previously blank page in the hopes of evoking a little emotion, and possibly even a change in perspective in our readers (and sometimes even in ourselves) that never would have transpired if the we, the writers, had never taken the time the sit down and type that shi# out.
Every time we show our work to other people, we’re putting our pride on the line. I’m still learning. I write weird fiction, and I’m a new author finding my way. My prose aren’t perfect, and sometimes I stare at a sentence way too long . . . just trying to figure out where the godforsaken HELL to put the bloody comma.
But I’m still a writer.
Because I’m still writing.
After the attending the Writers’ Guild social, I did what any self-respecting writerly introvert does, and googled the local writers I recognized. Many had blogs just like this one. In no time at all, I was knee deep in short stories and novel excerpts of some of the best writers in Canada. What did I see? Dialogue tags. Adverbs. Run-on sentences. Comma splices. And confidence.
Confidence makes a writer. That, and the ambition to keep going, no matter what.
I’m a published short story author. I’m a paid freelance writer. I am almost finished my own awesomesauce 120,000 word novel.
The only difference between them and me (is) WAS a state of mind. You don’t need a university education to be a writer. You don’t need to be published to be an author. All you need are the kahunas to keep writing, to keep learning and putting yourself out there even when you know you will never EVER be “perfect.”
And on that note, I better get back to work.