Wannabe, Aspiring, or Accomplished Author: Which are You?
I suppose the answer comes from your point of view. Sort of like the story of the three blind men standing about an elephant. It just depends on where you are as to what your description of the elephant will be. So, if our writing is the elephant, and we are all standing around it, we each will have a different view. (I realize this is heady stuff, but bear with me.)
The “Wannabe” authors come in many varieties. One half of these people are the “groupies” who would like to write, but in truth, prefer to be with authors, discuss books, ideas, and enjoy the conversations and overall camaraderie. The other half will tell you they want to write a book but don’t have time, still have children at home, haven’t yet found the right idea, been working on an idea for twenty years, or are waiting for their winning lottery ticket to arrive in the mail.
The “Aspiring” authors are actually writing, re-writing, editing, may be still confused about their novel’s true direction, and are trying their best to complete a manuscript. Possibly they have been working on their book for years, but they are steadily plugging away, one word at a time. Always though, dangling before their eyes is the golden carrot called “publication” which they are constantly striving to obtain. Of course for this discussion, we must include those persons who write just enough to have a chapter so they can announce themselves as being authors, yet will never finish the work for whatever reason.
And last but not least we have the “Accomplished” writer. Here are the Gods of Literature who have one or more published (Indie or Corporate House) works out for purchase by people other than their immediate family members. They can display scars upon their backs from bad editing, belittling rejection letters, agents’ laughter, and snobbish reviews. We might also include those individuals who are in the process of getting their first novel published, but it is right there, ready to go out into the world and become “The Great Classic” of the ages.
Does all of this so far sound a bit rough around the edges with a pinch of truth sprinkled in?
Well, yes, in fact it is. We hear these “titles” used every day, fit ourselves into one of them, and cast others into them as well. There is a little truth in each classification I wrote.
Do I completely believe each of the definitions? No.
For fun, let’s shoot some holes in them all while seeking the basic truths.
The “Wannabe’s” are probably the majority of people in society that have picked up a book to read for enjoyment. They secretly harbor the idea of writing, not on a serious level, and simply enjoy the feeling of being carried away to the multitude of worlds we as writers create. They are a writer’s best friend—the reader. I love them. Every writer loves them. These folks ask us about our books, how we do this and that, where did the idea for the novel come from, and a thousand other questions. They give us an adrenaline rush, swell our chests with pride, and give us a sense of self-worth for the hard work and long, solitary hours we put forth. I do not see them as “writer groupies” because they enjoy being associated with authors. I see them as new friends. But there are those “Wannabe” authors who use the excuses of time, family commitments, and their jobs as preventing them from writing.
Sorry, those excuses don’t hold water. Why? For one, look at the series of Harry Potter novels. I read an interview about J. K. Rowling that told of her being a single-parent, raising her daughter, working to support them, was financially strapped, and writing at any and every opportunity she received. She had an idea and kept hammering away at it. Then one day, “Harry Potter” strode forth into the world, setting a writing standard others wanted to follow. That is only one example.
Every day on Twitter, I read bio’s from women which states the same things; single-parent, raising children, working—and writing their first or second novel. There are people writing who have physical disabilities too, but they are writing. I know I’ve left out some industrious and courageous writer somewhere, so I apologize. The point is that if you want to write, or if you want to do something badly enough, you will make the time. I applaud everyone who is out there pounding their keyboards—especially women raising children! If embarrassment about your writing skills is holding you back, well, that is what editing is for! You can always find someone (a friend or a local school teacher) to help you edit a book. If you have a good enough story, tell it. Write your book. Write your story. You never know what may come about. But you have to write if you want to be a writer. What I’m pushing here is be honest with yourself, “Do it or stop telling everyone that you wannabe a writer.” To thine own self be true.
Now, let’s move on to the “Aspiring” writer. God bless this group because I believe we are all in this classification. We write, edit, argue with ourselves over what we wrote, have doubts, hope others will enjoy it, and keep writing until we hit “The End.” The work doesn’t stop there of course. We will push it on for publication, and endure the trials of marketing. Each time we begin a new novel, we become an “Aspiring” author. There are no guarantees that the new book will be good even though you received high accolades on your last one. With each new book we are reaching for that golden carrot of publication. (I will state though that for some authors it is a shorter reach….) But a portion of this group are the writers who barely complete a chapter then stop. He or she has reached a sufficient point to display some pages if asked, yet for their own reasons will never complete the book. For this segment of the literary community, I say, “If you started writing a book, finish the work.” Maybe you will never write again, but by completing the book, you will learn a lot about yourself and better understand the journey others have undergone.
And finally we arrive at the last category—the “Accomplished” writer.
Does having a mile-long list of published books make you an “Accomplished” author? Is having an agent or being published by a big house what makes you so? For the sake of argument, you could say you accomplished the publication of a book. That would be truthful. After all, you are a published author. But from my humble view atop this soap box, I believe we may be published and highly recognized by the public, but we are constantly in a race against ourselves to make our next book better than the last—and the pressure on us to do so has definitely magnified. Our readers demand better and better writings from the authors they love. We raise the bar on ourselves. I feel we must constantly strive to write better, improve our craft, and improve ourselves. I would never say I’m an “Accomplished” writer because I want to continuously improve. I haven’t reached an author’s pinnacle whereby I can sit back and say that everything I write is magnifico! So, in a nutshell, I’m saying we should be careful with our usage of the classification. To some degree it has a ring of arrogance we should avoid. But we should rightfully always be proud of our accomplishments in publication, and our achievements or awards in writing.
Before I step down from my soap box, I want to include a couple more aspects to consider in our struggle up the food chain to supreme publication.
Remember, we all started at the bottom, hoping to one day write a book. (Think back about the first line of the first chapter of the first book you wrote. Painful, wasn’t it?) In recalling those struggling days, we should always provide encouragement and assistance to anyone that needs help with their aspirations to write. Talk to people, never down to them. Throughout your career, keep your feet on the ground, but reach for those shining stars.
Whether in my career as a writer or during my years as a security manager for a global oil corporation, I’ve probably met about every type of person there is. One of the greatest authors I know, David Morrell, “First Blood,” (and many more books) talks to you—and his circle of friends are a “Who’s Who of Literature” listing. On the other hand though, I’ve met authors, barely published, who were condescending, and will never have the publishing numbers of just one of David’s novels. And don’t even get me started about some of the arrogant, global corporation management folks I’ve met because we could be here a long time.
So, we now draw to the end of my first blog. I can breathe now. My thoughts were from the heart and with great respect for my fellow authors of all standings, published or not. I will always have a sincere appreciation for those writers who offered their heartfelt encouragement to me when I first said, “I want to write a book.”
Don’t fit yourself into categories or classifications. The best you can possibly refer to yourself as is simply being “a writer.”
I wish you all the best in your writings and projects.
For my next blog topic I’m considering “Do-It-Yourself Root Canals” or “Lobotomy, The Easy Way.” Have a nice day.