When Do I Get To Feel Like An Author?

February 4, 2016

Here I am with two finished novels on the market and I still shy away when anyone mentions that I’m an author. The moment I hear the words coming out of someone’s mouth I begin to feel a lump in my gut that can only be loosened by me replying – “Yeah, but I’m not very good” or “I’m only self-published you know.”

But I don’t think I’ve written terrible novels, really. I personally love them. The writing is reasonably clear, the plot doesn’t have too many large holes, and the story itself has a beginning, middle, and an end. On top of that, I don’t think that self-publishing is any lesser than traditional publishing – it’s just another way to accomplish the same goal of getting work out to the public. So why do I still shy away from calling myself an author?

Am I worried what people will think as soon as they hear those words? I’m just a regular guy in my own mind – no different than any other. But I don’t want to be thought of like the guy everyone pictures when you say “He’s an author”. You know who I’m talking about. He’s the pompous ass who is trying to prove that he’s smarter than everyone else; walking around as though one and all should be in awe of his greatness, while the smugness wafts from him like too much Old Spice. In reality, though, people like this are extremely few and far between (thank God!), but the fear of being thought of in that way is enough to make my skin crawl.

I really didn’t write my novels in order to prove that I’m smarter than anyone else, because I truly don’t believe that. I think that with sufficient dedication and time, anyone can write a novel. I wrote them because writing a novel is something I have wanted to do since I was ten years old but never believed that I could. It took me nearly 30 years to work up the courage to give it a real try.

So, is it the fact that I really haven’t sold a lot of copies yet? I’ve given away a few thousand free copies and sold a few hundred. I’m not relying on this as my main income anyway, so while sales would be nice, they aren’t required. The few sales I have had have garnered some great reviews – along with a few truly horrible ones. Maybe by not committing to the fact that I am an author it makes it easier to take those poor reviews a little less personally because, as I’ve pointed out to others before, “Yeah, I know I’m not very good.” Maybe it’s just easier to say that than it is to accept that some people won’t like my work no matter what. Because that’s the law of art, after all. Not everyone’s going to like what you do, and that’s ok. Even though my logical brain knows this fact, the emotional part of me still wants to please everyone (although the older I get the lesser this urge remains).

Well, I still don’t know why I shy away from calling myself an author, but maybe over time I’ll grow into that skin. In the meantime I’ll be here, hammering words into semi-coherency on a somewhat regular basis, because, after all, I do enjoy the process.

Maybe that’s all I need.

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