Unborn Authors

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Once I had a few books out, I realized how easy it is to publish (well, self-publish). I began speaking about it, advising, and helping out in writer’s groups. So many people want to write and I wanted to help!

Then I realized that many people say they want to publish books (or say they do), but the books rarely materialize. It’s frustrating to watch talent and enthusiasm never pay off, even when there are moments people do get their book out. Somehow the successes don’t reduce the pain of seeing the failures.

My fellow authors and I commiserate about this. There’s a pain that comes with seeing people like us not realize what we have. There’s an unpleasant mix of empathy, disbelief, and frustration that tugs at us.

We share stories about it, trying to understand how we might help. The person who sees writing as a path to wealth but doesn’t understand how writing usually pays the bills. The author who can’t push the button. The writer who can’t start, and the other who can’t finish.

We talk about them but rarely do we find solutions. The pain stays with us because these authors are us, and there are things to tell. You can sense that book waiting to be born in someone.

I’ve realized it’s not the book being born that’s the problem. The problem is the person hasn’t yet been born as an author.

Writing is not just wordsmithing or plotting or self-publishing. It’s a lifestyle and the commitment and desire to get your work out. You don’t become an author by publishing; you become an author by becoming the kind of person who can get a book out.

This may mean writing better, learning software, taking classes, or going to therapy for issues. It means honing your art and moving forward. In many cases, it means getting the book out even if it’s bad so you can write the next one. Author is a verb way more than it is a noun.

So many unrealized authors haven’t gone all the way being authors. Stuck daydreaming or stuck afraid to push the button and publish, many are still stuck. They’re not born yet.

Maybe this is what we need far more than another grammar guide or plotting guide – advice on being an author as a person. I hope this helps my fellow published authors help others. It will certainly guide my future advice.

Who do you need to be in order to become an author?

Steven Savage