I suppose this is something of a follow-up to last week’s writer’s block post, in that it’s another common issue I see in writers, particularly newer ones. Call this the January Writing Blues series, or whatever you fancy. The fact is, I have an issue with aspiring authors.
I know this seems to be at odds with my whole philosophy — technically, I myself was an aspiring author just a few short months ago. But actually, I wasn’t, because I never really called myself an aspiring author.
Instead, I called myself an author.
What’s the difference?
Well, psychologically, quite a lot actually. I spoke about writer’s block being an abstract concept designed in the deep recesses of our subconscious as a defence mechanism against productivity last week. The dreaded ‘aspiring author’ tag isn’t much different.
But really, what’s the big issue with aspiring authors?
I just think labelling yourself an aspiring author is akin to putting a cushion underneath yourself as you jump, almost expecting to fall down and hurt yourself. Think about it: an aspiring ANYTHING is somebody who wants to be something. And that’s perfectly healthy and natural in some instances. I’m an aspiring multimillionaire. I can’t just click my fingers and become a multimillionaire, so I have to make do with aspiring.
But writing is a whole different matter to becoming a multimillionaire (in the early days anyway 😉 ). Truth is, and grammar teachers and language purists won’t like me for saying this, but anybody can become an author.
Is this a bad thing? Surely if every man and his dog can publish, then it takes away the quality of true works of genius, undermining the prestige of the author status forever?
Well, I say shut up and learn to live with it. There will always be bad books. There will always be good books, too. The rise of the digital age and innovations like Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords just makes it easier to get our stories out there. Sure, somebody might write a less-than-stellar novel ridden with errors, but trust readers to be the judges of quality. They’ve done a pretty good job throughout history.
But anyway, back to the point. The aspiring author. ‘I’d love to be an author.’ I hear it all the time. ‘One day, I’m going to write a book.’
Then they lose the ability to write in an accident and never write that one book.
Harsh, I know, but we’re a species obsessed with fantasising so much that we perhaps don’t realise the magnificent tool set we have in front of us and within us. Instead of saying ‘one day’, why not say, ‘today’? Instead of aspiring to be an author, why not write those first 1,000 words and become an author?! Life’s too short to aspire!
Isn’t there a criteria that makes somebody an author, though?
Probably. Personally, I don’t give a shit about any criteria. I’m an author. I have been since I penned my first short story. Maybe to some people, you need a novel to be an author. Perhaps so, to tick the boxes anyway, but mentally, I became an author long before I published my debut novel, What We Saw.
The fact of the matter is this: you may have good intentions in calling yourself an aspiring author, but 90% of aspiring authors never finish a book. Instead, why not call yourself an author from the off, and start believing it? Tell people you’re an author. Sing from the rooftops about it. That way, if you do fail, then you’ll feel even more of an idiot for doing so.
And surely that’s a good enough incentive, right?
Get rid of the cushion and jump for the stars. Drop the aspiring author tag. It did me a world of good. It’ll do the same for you.
When did you stop calling yourself an aspiring author? Did it have an impact on you? In your opinion, what does it take to become an author?
Indies Forward Event – 31st January
I’m a big fan of Duolit’s website, as any regular reader of my blog will be aware. They’ve helped me learn all sorts of little tips about marketing and attitude along the way, and their freshness continues to inspire me.
I recently became aware of author Julie Forward DeMay through Duolit’s blog. Julie is an author that chose not to be an aspiring author, instead opting to embrace the moment to write and publish. Her first book, Cell War Notebooks, was released in 2011.
Unfortunately, the book was published two years after Julie passed away following a brave battle with cancer.
That’s why this whole aspiring author thing resonates so much. Life’s too short to dream about the things within our grasp, seriously. One day, everything can be absolutely fine, when the next… we just don’t know.
The ladies at Duolit are hosting an event on 31st January to commemorate Julie and to help bring authors together to promote her book. If you’re a book blogger and you fancy participating, check out this page. All it takes is a blog and a few tweets. I’ll be posting my own special blog on the day, and dropping the occasional tweet too. I hope you’ll join me and loads of others in this special event.
Image courtesy of churl via Flickr