24 May 2020

What it Means to be an Author

What does it mean to be an author? It's definitely different from being a writer. A writer is, in my mind, someone who writes. They may write poetry; they may write stories. They are free like a child to write for pure expression and self-gratification. I loved being a writer. Not only did it feel exciting, but I had swarms of ideas that replayed over and over in my head for weeks on end until I could sit down and write them, each time getting clearer details.


When I became an author, I grew up.


The thing about being a writer is that you go deep. You have no structure, only stories. You have a dream of what you want to convey, and you do your best to convey it. You aren't restricted by spelling, grammar, story structures or perceived expectations. You just write. It feels like a child discovering finger painting for the first time.

When I became an author, it was like someone finally showing me that you're meant to colour inside the lines. You're supposed to stick to particular grammar, not use too many 'ly's, if any at all, pay attention to pacing, make sure there is drama and stakes, make sure your characters have personality, don't be too complicated but don't be too simple, don't use clichés, but use your tropes well, and the list goes on and on. And that's just for the writing.


Growing up into an author is like moving out of home for the first time.


You suddenly have bills to pay. You need to maintain your car. You have to feed yourself. You have a schedule and commitments. You may have other people or pets you need to look after. And then you pay taxes...


When I decided to be an author I had to learn how to edit, who to go to for editing, how to budget for a creative business, what the difference between revenue, profit and cost of production had to do with anything. I had to learn how to publish, how to do graphic design, ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA BANNERS ARE DIFFERENT! I had to learn how to market, then realise marketing didn't equal sales, so I had to learn how to sell and close a sale. I had to learn email campaigns, website design, content scheduling. I had to learn how to network effectively. I had to learn how to track stats and people like a good little Scorpio stalker I am. I had to learn and relearn how to find a target market and speak to them in a way they loved. I had to learn how to write well, and write better, and write faster, and plan my writing.


And then I had to learn how to deal with writer's block.


See... writer's block is like burn out. When you get stressed out and you're creative, you try to find creative solutions to things to make them easy, effortless, and efficient. Then too many problems come up and you starve your daemon. Your muse suffocates under the stress. And you can't write the things you planned on writing. Sometimes you can't write at all.


It hurts.


You realise no one truly prepared you to be an adult. No one truly prepared you to be an author.


THEN people have the gall to judge you. To tell you what you're doing wrong, what you could do better, how you could improve. PEOPLE WHO AREN'T AUTHORS TELL YOU HOW TO WRITE!


What it means to be an author is to slowly incubate life. Like a parent.


You think you're not ready. You think you're not cut out for it. You want to go back to being a writer because you were free. You weren't judged. You weren't stressed.


Then that sweet, darling story speaks to you.


"OMG you're my favourite author."


"I love the way you write."


"You're such a good writer."


"How do you write like that? It's so vivid. It's so enchanting."


"I've made all my friends read your book because I loved it. When is the next one coming out?"


Your story looks up at you and giggles like a baby trying to make you smile. And you do. You smile back because you realise in that moment that you've gotten lost in your own story again (Probably looking for some tiny detail), that you're a writer and your career is to be an author. Every fibre of your being is that of a writer. You tell stories through words. Throughout history people have loved you. Your ancesterage as a storyteller means more than the mundane stresses that starve your daemon of inspiration.


You take a walk. You play with the dog. You make yourself a childhood meal. You recuperate. You rest. You reduce the stress which clears the writer’s block and your daemon starts to call to you again.


When you're an author this cycle must be repeated over and over until you learn how best to manage your time. For some authors, they keep sending their book to publishers because that's their path. For others, they set a strict schedule, balancing food, movement, writing and work.


For me, I'm still figuring it out. For me, the satisfaction of checking off a list for the day or the week keeps me going, as well as having a VA and friends to keep me accountable, even if they don't realise their doing it. But more than that, it's about sculpting the marble. Carving the wood. The art is within, you just need to find it with the gentle chisel. My path is within. I just need to find it but trimming away the things that don't truly matter.


What does it mean to be an author?


Being an author means you are true to yourself in order to tell the best story you can.


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