Recently, I have come to discover that writing is about more than putting words on paper- or on a computer screen. It is about taking time out of your day to consider others. When we write, we consider what others might like to read, and as authors, we are often thrust into the public eye. Since the news of my first published book has made it around my hometown, I have found that I am now “friends” with people that I have either never known or have not heard from in ages. In a way, I guess that makes me a local celebrity, but one important things that I want to stress to all that read this is- DON’T LET IT GO TO YOUR HEAD.
I was told not too long ago that the world of published authors is a snobby one. This was said to me by another author who has been in the business a little longer than I have, but since I have started out in this venture, the only snob that I have found has been him. He told me that I needed to seek self-publication in order to get things rolling, but I was not in a position to pay out thousands of dollars to have my book published. I needed more traditional options.
This being said, I want to express a word of advice to all up and coming writers. Getting this particular writer’s views on being published discouraged me. I was sitting at my computer the next night doubting my decision to become a published author. I felt a small degree of hopelessness because I thought that maybe he was right. Maybe I am wasting my time because I probably won’t be accepted by publishing houses or by readers. That is when I realized that it wasn’t actually my decision to get published that I was doubting. It was my talent as a writer.
That encounter made me think back to when I was in a teenager. An older cousin of mine took me to hear Alex Haley speak. I was in awe of him. He was such a powerful force in the literary world. I remember going up to him afterwards and speaking to him. He signed his autograph for me with a smile. I had already known before I had gone to the event that I wanted to be a writer, but at that moment, squeezed into a small crowded room full of Mr. Haley’s fans, I realized that I wanted to be more. I wanted to be to others what he was to me- inspiration. I wanted to sit behind a signing table looking up at the nervous face of a aspiring writer and invoke the feelings in that starry-eyed person that he invoked in me.
I say this because, I want young writers to know that becoming a writer is about more than writing. It is about people. I have been asked a thousand questions since I announced the publication of my book by a thousand friends and strangers, and soon I will be hosting my very first book signing. I know that there will be others that want to become writers in attendance. They will come to the event, email me, or call me asking me questions about getting published. While the publisher that I chose may not be the best choice for all of them, I feel that it is my responsibility as a published author- new or not- to be encouraging.
I realized from my conversation with that other author that sometimes the things that I say can have dire consequences for others. If I had listened to him, I would have given up on my dream. I would have tucked my manuscript in some private file in the back of my computer’s memory bank and moved on to pursue more realistic goals in life.
The life of a writer- especially one just starting out- is not an easy one. It is filled with lows that can make you want to throw in the towel and move on, but it is also full of joyous surprises that can make you smile even though you just received your third rejection letter. It is an occupation that requires not only talent but also patience and faith.
I started out wanting to become a writer, but now I am realizing that I am becoming so much more. I am someone that other publication hopefuls are going to want to talk to ask questions. I can be discouraging and rude and possibly hurt someone’s feeling by belittling his or her dreams, or I can be encouraging and inspiring. Even if I don’t become one of the industry’s greatest finds, I could very well be the inspiration behind it.