Yeah, this is likely be the first of several posts in this category because I keep falling into traps of my own devising.
Before Christmas I did that thing I hate. I’ve heard from several unpublished authors who do the same thing, and they hate it, too.
A note of preface. I’m going to overuse air quotes throughout this piece so you can see how ridiculous one “writer’s” brain is.
So, at an event in December, someone introduced me as an “author”. Gasp!
Because many of us are hardwired to distinguish ourselves from authors who have been “actually” published, I said something self-deprecating to ensure these people knew I wasn’t a “real” author. I needed to forestall the inevitable questions about my “book”.
It didn’t work.
The awkwardness probably didn’t phase them and I’m certain neither of them is writing about the exchange two months later.
To many of us writing a book, “author” is a title of veneration which we cannot “earn” until our work appears on the shelf of a “real bookstore”.
Now, I’ll pause here for a moment so you can say something like, “Man, writers are weird/dumb/insecure gumble-goos.”
Yes! Thank you! Sigh.
While you’re SMDH’ing, I’ll mention that it took more than a decade before I’d even accept being called a writer. Seriously. I say this as a person who’s been paid for copywriting, editing, proofreading, and (lord, help me) straight up creative writing. I even had the title ‘Letter Correspondent’, but I wasn’t a writer because that wasn’t “real” writing.
Tired of the quotes yet? I am, and I fricking wrote this.
Anyway, I knew I was doing that thing I hate exactly as I was saying it. Much like Ralphie in A Christmas Story as he drops the F-bomb, except things worked out a smidge better for me in December.
You see, I was secretly pleased that the subject had been broached, though I’d never say it aloud. I was pleased because there are a few days a year where writers do want to talk about their craft. As a result, we had a nice conversation during which I explained the plot, my protagonist, Tildy, and my motivations for writing a book with a thirteen-year-old heroine.
Not only did it help break me from my shell, it helped me practice my pitch, which for many writers is harder than completing an entire book.
And so, WRITERS (you see I abandoned the air quotes several paragraphs ago), be proud and unafraid, even if it requires you to rewire your brain a smidge.
Good luck with your non-air-quoted writing!
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© Michael Wallevand, February 2020