I had the most amazing and wonderful AH-HA moment at the writer’s conference (Write Angles) I attended last weekend. At the beginning of one of the workshops, the moderator asked for a show of hands if you’d written a novel. I raised my hand, as did a few others in the room. The moderator and panelists seemed impressed that some of us had already written novels and there were also a few audible gasps (and even a faint clap) from other participants in the workshop at those of us raised our hands.
At the end of class, as I gathered my things, the woman next to me asked if she could ask me a question.
“Did you really write a novel?”
Surprised and slightly embarrassed by the question I nodded, and then said, “Actually, I’ve written three.”
Her eyes went wide. “That is really impressive!”
“Thanks,” I said tentatively.
Then she asked these questions: how did I to write the novel? Did I make an outline? When did I find time to write? Where did
my ideas come from? How many hours a day to I write? And…. is it really hard? As I answered her questions, I tried to ignore the fact that she was taking notes and seemed to be hanging on my every word (ok, well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but still). As we were
parting, she thanked me profusely and said that my information was much more helpful was than the panelists who had actually presented. I blushed, and felt strange about that.
I said to her almost apologetically, “I haven’t published anything yet.” But, she didn’t care.
Oh…..wait….AH-HA!!! The light bulb was so bright!
She was putting ME on a pedestal because I have done something she is dreaming of doing. I have written a novel! No, I've written a couple of them. So why did I feel so strange talking to her about it, asif I didn’t have any right to tell her about my process? As if I was a fraud of some sort? Because I am still looking at those who are published writers, as being better than I am. As if they hold some secret key to a society that I am desperately trying to get into.
Writing, finishing a project, publishing, fame, sustainability. Is each its own pedestal? A series of steps? Am I on step three? I
actually do have some published work, even if most of it is ghost writing, I also have some Yahoo pieces, and two magazine articles and I should feel great about that. Perhaps I’ve touched pedestal three but just need to fully plant my feet there to feel like I have arrived.
As I drove home, I realized that writing is a journey. A journey of self-discovery. It can be lonely and frustrating at times but staying on course will reap wonderful benefits.
Last year, I read Stephen King’s “On Writing”. A wonderful book about writing, go get a copy if you've never read it. I copied down tons of great quotes, but my favorite (and it’s on my computer right now) is: “Do you need someone to make you a paper badge with the word WRITER on it before you can believe you ARE one? God I hope not.” Back when I read that book, I really needed validation that I could call myself a writer even though I hadn’t published anything. Stephen King gave me that validation (even though he
doesn’t know it!).
I feel confident calling myself a writer now but I don’t think I am an author yet. Maybe I will make myself a badge today that
says AUTHOR so that I can start believe it.
I know one thing for sure: I’m not someone wandering around saying “someday I will write a book”. I’m on a pedestal! I’m actually on pedestal 2 reaching hard for pedestal 3! Planting my feet onto pedestal 3 is going to be a tough one. And, just because I am one of millions out there vying for a spot on that pedestal, I deserve it just as much as anyone.
I really hope that woman I met is writing her novel and having fun. Enjoy the first pedestal my friend, because you are now on
your way to becoming an AUTHOR!