Wednesday, August 2, 2017

You Don't Need Permission To Be An Author

You know how, when you were a kid, you assumed all adults just knew what was really going on in the world? That when you reached a certain age you took a test, got certified, and boom, society now considered you an adult participant? Do you remember how shocked you were when you graduated high school, or got out of college, or found yourself staring down the barrel of 30, and realized you'd never received your adulting license in the mail? Despite that, though, you're paying bills, going to work, eating your vegetables, and building your life as best you can.

Who gave you permission to be a grown-up?

I have no idea what I'm doing.
Authors go through pretty much the same thing. They discovered they like writing stories, they try to hone and refine their craft, and come up with products that people like to read. And they always tell people they're going to be an author some day. The problem is, no one really knows when that some day will be. Is it after you post a story on the Internet? Is it when you self-publish a novel? Is it when you're traditionally published through a small publisher? A large one? Is it when you win an award, or when you have a steady income?

I've got a hint for you... none of us know. We just woke up one day, and realized we were authors. Because it is the action that defines you. If you complete a manuscript, whatever it is, then you have written it. If you publish that manuscript, in any format, then you're an author.

There's No Bouncer In This Club

There are a lot of people standing on soap boxes, holding forth their views on what does, and does not, make someone a writer, or an author. That's the great thing about opinions, though; you can pretty much ignore most of them.

Just imagine those gatekeepers look like this guy. It makes it a lot easier.
Because, and I say this after looking high and looking low, there is no one out there you need to collect a certificate from in order to be an author. A first-time no-name's book might catch a publisher's eye, and a lifer with several decades of experience might get rejected. Your first book might hit the cultural zeitgeist, and fly off the shelves, while a book written by an old hand with a carefully-tested appeal might fall flat. Every submission, and every publication, is a spin on the roulette wheel. And it's true that one company might say no to your work, or a dozen. That doesn't stop you from dusting yourself off, walking over to Amazon, and doing it yourself if you want to.

Authors are defined by their actions, not by the standards set by naysayers and quibblers. So, just like no one can officially hand you an I.D. card and declare you an author, neither can they say you're not. Because the decision is yours. Will you sit down and bleed at that keyboard, or will you wait around for permission to put words on the page?

Because if you're waiting for the go-ahead, trust me, you're going to be waiting a long damn time.

That's all for this week's Craft of Writing. Sorry for the brevity, but sometimes the messages I have to deliver don't take that long. If you want to keep up-to-date on all my latest releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you want to help support me and my work, then head on over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. For as little as $1 a month you get a free book, and my undying gratitude.

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