Am I a “real” Author yet?

Author at work

I’m coming up on two years as a full-time writer. I have spent hours writing words, days editing them and months submitting the resulting stories to appropriate markets. And still I wonder: at what point does a person feel like an author?

When the first acceptance letter comes? I’ve got two, and I still feel like I’m pretending to be an author most days.

When the first paycheck comes? Okay, I can’t really consider that minuscule royalty check a “paycheck.”

When someone asks for an autograph? I’ve signed a couple – for family and friends.

When they get an advance with their sold  manuscript?

When they see their book on a best-seller list?

When they must start a Facebook fan page because they have reached the maximum number of friends on their profile?

When they have 5,000 or more followers on Twitter?

When they say their name and someone standing nearby asks, “Are you the Sharon Hughson who wrote this book?”

I keep waiting for a magical moment. I always imagined there would be one. Doesn’t there have to be one?

I’ve dreamed of writing stories that people want to read for most of my life. I’ve been writing stories since I was nine years old (before then, I just told oral tales to my stuffed animals).

I imagined that I would spend my days at a handsome desk. Sunlight would pour over me from a nearby window. Words would spill from my fingers onto the page.

It's a beauty! Those Hughson boys can assemble a desk, I tell you.
It’s a beauty! Those Hughson boys can assemble a desk, I tell you.

I am living that vision.

The one where a bookcase behind me is filled with titles I wrote? Not yet. It’s only been two years. I do have the proof copy of my sole independently published title on my office bookshelf.

Why do I keep waiting to “feel” like an author?

I can’t imagine Brandon Sanderson waking up in the morning and wondering if he is really an author.

What makes a person reach a point where they consider themselves an author? Please, help me figure this out.

6 thoughts on “Am I a “real” Author yet?

    1. I was getting ready to go away for the weekend, so I cleared it off. Also, I’m “between” projects, so I don’t have the mess of spirals and printed manuscript pages that are generally sprawled out when I’m mid-project.

  1. Am I a “real” Author yet? Here are my totally arbitrary guidelines for different category of authors:

    Published Author? When someone has paid you (or at least promised to pay) for something that you have written. Or, in the case of self-publishing, when the revenue exceeds the expense of self-publishing.

    An Author? When you wake up in the morning with an idea in your head that just won’t go away until you’ve written it down. When you are watching a movie or television show and someone says a phrase or has a look on their face and the only thing you can think of for the next five minutes is how awesome that would be in a short story / novel.

    A good Author? When someone sends you an unsolicited comment about your book … and they liked it. Yes, you only need one positive comment to be a good author.

    A popular author? When an editor / agent / publishing company contacts you, instead of you contacting them.

    So, the real question isn’t are you a “real” author, it’s what sort of author do you want to be?

    Yes, totally arbitrary guidelines, but the meeting going on in the room around me is really boring and this was much more entertaining.

    Good luck on deciding what type of author you want to be. I look forward to reading the answer.

    1. Donald-
      I think your guidelines are fairly spot on.
      I am both a published author and an author. I guess I will see if I’m a good author. I do have a few positive reviews on my published short story, but no one has sent me a personal message fawning on how much my writing impacted them, so I don’t think I’ve reached the “good author” state just yet.
      As much as it would be an ego boost to have an agent, editor or publisher contact me out of the blue, I’m not sure I’m ready for the scrutiny being a popular author would bring my way.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

  2. Touch your nose. Is it made of wood? If not, congratulations! You are a Real author! (If it is, please seek medical attention. And avoid fudging the truth in case it grows.)
    More seriously, the whole self-doubt/have-I-really-arrived-and-if-so-where thing is a natural part of being an author, according to Anne Lamott. Have you read Bird by Bird? if not, I highly recommend it. It made me feel like a real writer just because I identified with all the neuroticness about whether I was a real writer or not 🙂
    I thought I would start to feel ‘real’ when I left my job to write full time. It turns out I just feel guiltier about how unproductive I seem to be. Still more productive than when working in an office, but still not as productive as I feel I ought to be!

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