Friday, June 03, 2011

When Will I Feel Like an Author?

Yesterday, in one of my daily fits of angst, I posted the following on Facebook:

I wonder when I will finally feel like a 'proper' author. When I have five books published? Ten? Or never?

Facebook friends being the wonderful people that they are, I got back a chorus of words of wisdom that made me feel like I wasn't alone in my angst. I thought I'd share some of the responses (anonymously), many from best-selling novelists I'd never in a zillion years suspect of doubting their 'proper' author status!

  • I don't think anyone feels like a proper author until they're had a feud with Martin Amis or VS Naipaul.

  • I'm still waiting....but on the otherhand being paranoid and insecure are the SURE signs of a proper author so.....we're in!!!!!!
  • My mother constantly worried about her writing and whether she was any 'good', even after she'd published well over a hundred books and was a million bestseller. Knock that inner critic on the head and repeat after me, 'I am a proper author. I am a proper author.
  • Not only are you a proper author, you're a *published* author! I suspect the *proper* feeling doesn't come until you've paid off the mortgage with the proceeds from writing. ;-)
  • Remember when you were 5 sweetie and the world was your oyster..... When you could be whatever you wanted to be? Well..... What changed....... Get that feeling back.... Because whether you think you are an author or whether you think you are not..... either way you are right xx
  • I don't feel like one - yet. For all kinds of reasons. And the reasons are probably becoming irrelevant anyway... I don't feel like an author at all when I'm writing - I keep thinking: Proper authors wouldn't just be writing train of thought
    stuff but have neatly arranged have post-it notes on the door and a detailed plan - and not have an illegible ms because they were so scared of losing the moment. They'd have coloured index cards for research and character arcs , not bits of paper all over the floor or a total flipping mess in their head.
  • I know what you mean - it was like before I published anything (short story/essay) I felt funny calling myself a writer - even though that's just what I was doing - then when I was published, I thought "well now I have to have to be paid
    something" then that happened, then it was "well now I have to have a novel published" then that happened, then it was "now I need to have another one published" - then another one, then it was "I should be on a best seller list or win an award to really be ligit" GEEEZ-it'll never end, so best enjoy all the little moments and be proud of what you have accomplished - there are always so many people behind you who'd kill to be where you are right now :-D
  • nineteen books in and I still feel like I'm an interloper.xxx
  • Talli, trust me, the 'big names' have the same doubts as those just starting out - it feels the same, no matter how many books you've had published and how many awards you've won. So I guess that makes you a proper author ;o) In a weird way, the doubts are a positive thing because it means you're trying to do the best you can for your readers - when you stop feeling that way and stop caring, that's when you're not a proper author, imho.
  • When you can give it as your occupation without feeling a fraud. :-)
  • J K Rowling is my ideal of a proper author (that is, a multi-zillionaire) and I think she has written about nine books - the HPs and some little ones about Quidditch and fairy tales and stuff. So let's say ten?
  • Never:) The more books the bigger the insecurities which lead to a desire to stack shelves in Tesco. Authors thrive on 'I am not worthy'. But we still do it so we must be okay really.

Interesting, hunh? It's funny, because I always thought that once I got published, I'd immediately feel validated. And although being published rocks, it's not the cure-all to the niggly doubts and worries that existed before publication. In fact, I might even say it makes those doubts worse! But the good thing is -- I'm not alone. Thank goodness for writer friends and their support and encouragement.

How about you? What will it take for you to consider yourself a 'real' author?

72 comments:

  1. Talli, here's a thought. I have your book, with your beautiful cover and your name listed as author sitting on my end table waiting to be read. I have never met you. And I am not the only one who has purchased your book and doesn't know you. Self-doubt is such a hard thing. I auditioned yesterday for the first time in my life with my singing group to be part of a community theater production. Afterwards, I said to my two other sings that, although I sing, I don't think I'm a "singer."
    Just tell those thoughts to go away. That's what I'm learning to do.
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karen, thank you! You're so right. :) And thank you so much for buying my book, too. xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting, Talli. I would say paying off the mortgage would convince me.
    Seriously, I think self-doubt is good, keeps the writing fresh.
    Is it just a female author thing I wonder, or do male authors feel the same?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lovely responses from your Facebook friends - the feeling is obviously universal:-) Keep on keeping on . . .

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jabblog, yes, it was good to know I wasn't alone!

    Brigid - Hm! Interesting question. I wonder, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I can quit my day job. Then I'll feel like a "real" author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great response from your FB friends. Knowing that it's all part of the author journey, worries and all, certainly helps!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Making enough money from writing to quit my day job would be good. But I'll bet I could find some other goal to set before I really thought of myself as a proper author if that happened!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I said it before and will say it again. You are an author, Talli. A bloody good one! One of the nicest I know too! X

    Hold you head up, and shine. Embrace what you do and believe in yourself. x

    ReplyDelete
  10. But I thought if I managed to jump over all the hurdles and miraculously a publisher liked my novel they'd give me a huge advance and my own gift-wrapped copy of sparkly validation and a unicorn. And you say it isn't so?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Those are some great responses. You should listen to those people!
    When it will hit me - I have no idea.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tali, I'm like Karen in that I bought your book, we've never met, and I think of you as a 'real' author. I think it's the 'real' part that nags at one's inner core - what with so much staged reality tv and other stuff, 'real' lacks a proper definition. But, to me, you're a real author!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I often have doubts, even after six books. Probably why I call myself a speaker first - that feels more real.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Talls, you were an author long before publication, love.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh my goodness, I have no idea. I feel like if you keep having goals (write another book, sell X number of copies), you'll never feel like you've reached author status. And maybe that's ok.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This was a very enlightening post. I guess I just always assumed once I got published, I'd feel like an author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Aw, I know it must be hard and I bet so many authors feel the same way. I bet those that have a ton of books published still feel like that. It's great to know you aren't the only one :) I'm sure I'll feel like that if I ever publish.

    ReplyDelete
  18. awe, it feels good to know you're not alone! I have no idea how I'll feel the day I get published. All I know is I put in the work, I'm doing what I love, and hopefully some day it will pay a little more than the figurative 'joy' that comes with writing. Will I feel like a proper author them? Who knows!;)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I consider myself an author, because I have short fiction in publication. But I want to add "novelist" to my resume sooooo badly! Until I have completed a first draft, I won't be content. Author isn't proper enough for me, without novelist in the definition. Just goes to show, we're all somewhere on our journeys!

    Happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  20. You've earned the mantel, Talli. Wear it proudly!

    ReplyDelete
  21. You're a multi-published author so you definitely qualify. In fact, you've written both fiction & nonfiction so there's no question about your qualifications.

    Send a sample of your work to V.S. & see if he can guess if male or female wrote it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I believe Paul had a point : when you can support yourself with your writing, then perhaps it will feel as if you are an author.

    Writers are much like actors who never feel secure in their profession. It is that insecurity that drives them to improve and grow. And that is not such a bad thing, is it?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yay for lovely and wise words of support!!!!

    Take it from us gorgeous Talli! You are an AUTHOR!! Yay!! Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  24. You're a wonderful author Talli and we all know it, even if you still worry a little.

    I think I'll feel like a proper author when I'm published. (She says crossing fingers, toes, everything).

    ReplyDelete
  25. Um pretty sure when I am writing full time and can ditch the two jobs I work now I will have earned the "feeling" of this is it...I am a writer.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Talli .. I guess when those little insecurities go away ..?! Tell them to go away .. find a magic stick and wand them away ..

    You're there - published and out and running .. way more than many authors, who have their books sitting .. you've been pro-actively promoting your book .. that's an author -

    So 'feel' and become free from anxieties .. nearly time for a glass of vino to calm the nerves.

    Wonderful supportive FB friends though ..as here .. and your book will be here soon too ..

    Cheers for now - happy weekend: YOU ARE PUBLISHED .. Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  27. I feel TOTALLY weird saying I'm an author, and I keep hoping that'd change when I got an agent. Then I thought maybe when I sold my book. Now I keep thinking maybe when I see my book in physical print. Sounds like that'll always be there, though. Still... maybe that's what drives us to get better and better? :P

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm under contract. I'm an author. Simple :D

    ReplyDelete
  29. It's a never-ending story about how much a writer can write or an artist can paint. It's all because you're full of ideas, and you'll have so much to work with in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I think that simply having someone call me an "Author" would make me feel like one....
    Of course, it generally doesn't take much to please me.

    ReplyDelete
  31. You are definitely not alone! I'm not sure when I'll feel like an author. That's a scary question honestly. I'll get back to you after my book debuts in August. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Talli, you are a proper author, I've read your book and I'm shadowing you to learn more about this game, so don't spoil my dream of you being a proper author...laugh! Hugs x

    ReplyDelete
  33. I don't know because I'm still trying to validate the whole "I must be a writer because I write every day" thing, LoL.

    You're definitely an author, Talli. Own it!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Just stopping by to cheer you on and upward! I've already said my piece on FB :-D

    *You Are A Writer/Author! Believe*

    ReplyDelete
  35. I don't know, really. As a job title, I'd consider myself an author if I was making a living at it (more or less). But as far as defining myself...I'm always just me. A bundle of all sorts of definitions.

    ReplyDelete
  36. So nice to have great friends!!! You ARE an author already darling!! What are you talking about?

    I'm writing still, when I have agent and get published, then I'll call myself an author. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'll have to wait and see what it feels like to have one book published (not there, yet), before I can answer your question.

    I think of you as an author.
    : )

    ReplyDelete
  38. ooh, yeah...I'm thinking this is one of those areas that will forever evolve. *sigh* :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Mmmmm - I think the problem is, there are not many professions out there where a person can be exposed to such potentially high-profile criticism. Authors are naturally sensitive and yet they are expected to develop a hard shell. No one can please everyone all of the time and yet as authors we want/expect to. That makes being an author a little scary.
    Self-belief is crucial.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Well, there's a difference between being an author and being a writer. I'm a writer for sure, and always will be. I first started feeling like an author when I got some stories published (and was paid for them) and self-published a book (which was well-received by readers). But I'll probably feel like a "proper" author when I get a book commercially published. I am really living for that day.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm with Janice! We writers need to beleive in ourselves. And Talli, you have every reason to. I think of you as an author that I admire.

    I do think of myself as an author, probably because I'm so stubborn that I feel absolutely determined to make the most of my dream. (Read: I'm hard-headed.)

    ReplyDelete
  42. I promised myself that as soon as I had a book to hold in my hand with my name on it...You ARE a proper author. So many people never get as far as you've come. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

    ReplyDelete
  43. I enjoyed this one alot. Glad to know that even authors as established and as successful as yourself - have the same feelings...

    ReplyDelete
  44. You've got one awesome book out, with an awesome cover with your awesome name on it. You are an awesome author. :D
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. I am one of your admirers, Talli! I loved your book, they made me laugh, they made me feel for the characters and I think you're a really really good author. I remember somebody saying this to me years ago about being good at something (sadly it wasn't writing, LOL) so I'll repeat it because somebody must be telling you this right now: "You are so good. The problem is, you don't know that you are." Hugs, Talli!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Sorry wrong grammar - I meant: your book made me laugh and the characters made me feel for them. More hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I say that you should right now! :) But I understand the challenges of doubt and confidence and all that kind of thing. I think we all wrestle with it in one area or another, you know? Aiming to move ahead in a positive way (okay so technically I'm not an author yet, but a writer anyhow:) and gaining inspiration from the real authors like you.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I'm so glad you wrote this post. Who woulda thunk? I never would have dreamed so many authors feel the same way I do! I think the whole writing journey is a roller coaster ride, before and after publication. Enjoy the highs and be gentle with yourself during the lows. And a couple glasses of wine does wonders! Cheers to you, a real author.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I haven't even started a book yet, so I really don't feel like an author.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I don't know about when I'll feel like a real author, but I haven't been published yet. Is that even the end-game in this? I suppose there's a difference between being a "writer" and an "author", and the second should rely on publication. I think at the end of the day it's based on our own levels of confidence, and after a long query process and continual rejection, it may be hard to let yourself mentally move into the light.

    All that aside, I think you're a "real" author. I loved your book and I can't wait for WWW. I'm glad you do what you do, and I think you do a spectacular job at it, too. *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  51. For me it's a bit like accepting that you're grown up. I still feel like a kid inside and have a shock when I catch sight of myself in the mirror.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Everyone already thinks of you as an author, but I know what you mean. Maybe when you feel you've achieved enough and are happy with the goals you've set? We love you!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I don't know what people mean when they say author. I know I write. I know I write books. I know I've published a book. Other than that, I don't worry about it.

    Jai

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'll feel like a proper writer when I finish a full first draft. I'll feel like an author when it gets published. When I feel like it's any good is another matter!
    And as for you young lady, I loved your first and am counting the days till your second is available, so you're doing something right :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks for sharing these wonderful responses! I hope all the encouraging words were helpful for you. I have your book in my "to read" list and look forward to reading it, I know I think of you as an author! :)

    It's great to know that so many others share the same insecurities, definitely seems to come with the writing territory.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I doubt even the most well written author feels the nerves as they send their manuscripts off to Agents and Publishers. Self doubt appears to be natural when we are asking someone else to judge our work. You are an author Talli. Be proud!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'll be the capitalist pig here and say...when I got the first advance check!

    ReplyDelete
  58. What a great post! I'm sure I'll always wallow in self doubt :)

    ReplyDelete
  59. Hah, you definitely are not alone in these thoughts and feelings! ...simple concept, yet quite complex.
    it's a very good question though...
    Also, the book you talked about? WRiting to be Published? I have it on my shelf to read so now since I finished another book, I'll begin that one!

    ReplyDelete
  60. We authors, unpublished or not published or published many times over, are a needy and insecure bunch. It probably only gets better be degrees.

    I really believe once you can live on your pay, that must be validating.

    Can't wait for your next book to come out, Talli!

    ReplyDelete
  61. You are most definitely an author Talli! But I know what you mean... Self doubt can be a very destructive thing. Personally, I refer to myself as a writer rather than an author. I wonder what that says about me??

    ReplyDelete
  62. Talli you are a SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR. Go with the flow and ENJOY IT!

    ReplyDelete
  63. 'Nineteen books in and I still feel like an interloper.' Well, get that. I think we all have our times of feeling a fraud for getting paid for what we enjoy doing so much, well, most of the time anyway.

    We love our Talli and I can't wait to buy your second WWW. Can't guarantee I'll read it straight away. So many good blogger books, so little time...

    Denise<3

    ReplyDelete
  64. Very interesting. My benchmark is still getting that elusive contract =)

    ReplyDelete
  65. wow! Being an author seems to be a state of mind?? I read something once or twice that as soon as you have something published... you are an author ...
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  66. I guess when I can write as a JOB, and not have to worry about freelance work :o( Which will most likely be NEVER.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I've decided that I'm not going to be an author even after I have my name on books. I'm not going to be a playwright even though I've already had several plays hit the boards. Nope,I'm a writer and that will have to do.

    ReplyDelete
  68. It's a question I often ask myself and I'm nowhere near as far along the line as you!

    You ARE an author, Talli, have no doubt about that. And I definitely think of you as an author when I see your lovely website and book covers etc.

    As for the question you ask (and judging by the responses) I think the self doubt is a trait of ALL authors - it's all part and parcel of the path we've chosen. And I suspect we never feel like an author unless we have won some prize or other and/or had top ten books.

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  69. It's always lovely to be met with such resounding support. Me, I suppose I'm a bit of a light touch...I feel that once the book's finished, and out there, that makes a real author. The rest...the reviews, money, publicity...that all makes it a job, a career, a joining of the professional and the creative, but an author is born when they have taken that plunge into the world, regardless of the end-results. But that's just my two cents. I can understand the insecurity though, and the uncertainty...the writing field today doesn't exactly breed feelings to the contrary in its participants.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I'm not sure whether that's reassuring or worrisome! I figure whatever I say qualifies me as an author will probably change each time I accomplish something. For now, having a book out there with my name written on the cover would be a good start.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    and I are joining forces in another challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the participants, starting with the reflections post. We hope you'll join us!
    Shannon @ The Warrior Muse

    ReplyDelete

Coffee and wine for all!