Am I an Author Yet?

BY VK POWELL

 

Who hasn’t asked themselves this question? I’ve struggled with it since my first short story was published. Anyone who writes can be called a writer, but is there some special right of passage for becoming an author? I wrote three short stories for anthologies before my first novel came out. Did that mean I was an author? Some said yes, others no.

 

When I submitted my first manuscript, To Protect and Serve, to Bold Strokes Books, my editor said, “You have the bones for a good story, but they’re strewn all over the road.” Not encouraging words. I worked through the grueling editing process and when the book came out, I was sure I wasn’t an author—too much to learn.

 

The one liner for my second book, Suspect Passions, said it all: the truth is rarely pure and often painful. This was my first, and to date only, romance without an intrigue component. Writing two characters falling in love without a suspense driver to help them along was daunting. I developed a greater respect for romance writers and further convinced myself that I wasn’t an author and might never be. Strike two.

 

Books three (Fever), four (Justifiable Risk), and five (Haunting Whispers) Haunting 2were exercises in what not to do when writing a novel: unnecessary point of view shifts, passive verbs, long introspective passages, telling the story, clichés, filtering, repetitive words…you get the picture. So did I. It was becoming clear that I might never be a real author. After book three, I chose a nice round number as the final gauge of my skill—number six.

 

In mid-August my sixth book,Exit Wounds 300 DPI Exit Wounds, will be released. As the time draws nearer, the less certain I am about reaching my goal. What’s so magical about six? Do I feel any different, any better qualified to tell my stories than I did at number one? Maybe my craft skills have improved (I sure hope so or all that painful editing and my editor’s hard work would be in vain), but I don’t feel any more capable.

 

So, I’ve decided to put yet another carrot out there on a stick—I’ll be a real, honest to goodness, bona fide, qualified, certified author when I receive an award for my work. For some reason I now believe the measure of my success lies in outside validation. Will it ever happen? Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally get it that none of these things really matter; it’s all about belief in myself. In the meantime, the struggle for excellence in my craft continues.

 

Anybody else struggle with this question…or is it just me?

45 Responses to “Am I an Author Yet?”


  1. 1 Devlyn July 30, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    VK, I can understand why you think this way but I can assure you that this member of your fan club sees you as a fully fledged Author and a damn good one at that.

    Like

  2. 2 Yvonne Heidt July 30, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Vic – thank you for being so emotionally honest! I think we all go through that – and it’s my humble opinion – YOU’RE A REAL AUTHOR! I promise – I’ve read your books!

    Like

  3. 4 S.A. July 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Great perspective; thanks for sharing! Sometimes it’s all about the journey and the process – you are a real author, continually honing your craft.🙂

    Like

    • 5 Vic July 31, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      You’re exactly right. Sometimes I feel that I’m becoming more comfortable with the process but more anxious and uncertain about the outcome.

      Like

  4. 6 Jae July 30, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I think most of us have been in your shoes in one way or another. Personally, I think what makes a writer an author is the professional attitude–and that means the willingness to work hard on your craft and to put in all the time and effort it takes to produce the best books possible.

    Like

  5. 8 jeffreyricker July 30, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    It is *so* not just you. My second book comes out next year, and I’m working on #3 and #4 along with a bunch of stories, and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve arrived at that place where I’m confident that I’m a writer. I just call myself one and hope nobody notices the smoke and mirrors.

    Like

  6. 10 Eric Andrews-Katz July 30, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    You are not only an author, but you are inspiring!

    Like

  7. 12 clifford henderson July 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Can so relate. And here’s a funny thing, I’ve received awards and still wonder if I’m a real author… What the hell? Here’s what I’ve come to believe… it’s the journey that counts. And by the way, I think you writing is great.

    Like

  8. 14 Julie Tizard July 30, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    VK, you most certainly are a “real” author. The body of your work and the quality of your writing attest to that fact. Your writing is bold, powerful, and most of all, inspiring. As far a awards, a small group of people on a panel judging other people’s work may, or may not, get it right. The true measure of success is how many of your readers rush out to buy your next book – which I just did. Thanks for all the great books so far.

    Like

  9. 16 Martha July 30, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Yes VK, you are indeed an author and in my opinion an extremely good one My favourite book of yours is still ‘To protect and Serve’ I absolutely loved it and also thoroughly enjoyed every book that you have written since and cannot wait to add ‘Exit Wounds’ to my collection!

    Like

    • 17 Vic July 31, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      Thanks, Martha! TPaS holds a special place in my heart as well. Please let me know how you like Exit Wounds–it’s special too, in a different way.🙂

      Like

  10. 18 Lisa Girolami July 30, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    VK, do not doubt that you’re a wonderful author. And I so appreciate your candor. I have the same thoughts and worries. But I tell people the same thing about art – if you pick up a brush, a pencil, a whittling knife and reach down inside, pull out your feelings, and express them, you’re an artist. The bottom line – JUST IMAGINE AND CREATE.

    Like

  11. 20 Allison Mugnier July 30, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I can send you a nice blue ribbon if it will help. Yes, silly rabbit, you are indeed an author. And a good one, too.

    Like

  12. 22 Erin Saluta July 30, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Would never even have thought a published author would debate this question internally- thanks for sharing. And I believe with the hard work that goes into each manuscript, the editing, the revisions and the hope that it definitely qualifies you as an author.

    Like

    • 23 Vic July 31, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Yep, confidence wanes in most of us I suppose, especially when it comes to exposing ourselves to evaluation, ridicule, and possible rejection by friends and strangers alike. Writing is a very personal thing and it takes guts to put yourself out there.
      Thanks for your encouragement!

      Like

  13. 24 Melissa Grace July 30, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    At first I felt a little out of place. I mean, here I am, just a tiny sprout trying to grow from the earth after just being planted as a simple little seed. As my tiny little head pops through the soil, I can see in wonderment so many tall and brilliant flowers of different shapes and colors surrounding me. Inspiring me. I know right away I hope to be a part of them someday—just as fervent and just as vivid. All I need is a safe place that gets sun and rain to keep me growing—along with a lot of hard work and effort!

    That’s how I felt the first time I met you. It was a few weeks ago in Dallas at GCLS when we shared a table to learn from another inspiring flower by the name of Lee Lynch. I offered you my hand to introduce myself, wondering how is it that I had never met you, yet you seemed familiar to me somehow. (Ah, Eureka! Twitter and Carsen’s Vlogs). When you said your name I got a little fan-girlish even though I told myself I wouldn’t get that way, but what’s a girl to do when a vibrant and talented AUTHOR displays such a warm and generous smile, making one feel so welcome.

    I have no doubt that you will get an award for your efforts. In mid-August I will be reading a book from one of my favorite authors…so thank you, from the bottom of my roots, for sharing your incredible words.

    Like

    • 25 Vic July 31, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Thank you Melissa. That was beautifully written. I appreciate your encouragement and support! It was very nice meeting you in Dallas. You’ve got one of those super encouraging smiles, too!

      Like

  14. 26 Sue Flynn July 31, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    As someone ‘playing’ with a first book reading your blog makes it scarier still. Self doubt stops us doing lots of things but I am enjoying writing. So even if its crap Im still enjoying it. I love your books. I sort of think if your past 6 books and they are published YOU are an author.🙂

    Like

    • 27 Vic July 31, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Sorry, Sue. Didn’t mean to scare you. And you’re right, even if it is scary, just keep going (I do). It’s a wonderful feeling to do what you love!

      Like

  15. 28 Carol P. July 31, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    Thank you, Vic, for sharing your honest reflections. I know that I write because I have too. My characters call to me when I’m at work to get home and finish their story.
    I hope to have my work published one day, and perhaps, as you say, ‘outside validation’ is what I’m looking for. Someone who knows the art of writing to let me know mine is good enough to share with the world.
    I’ve read your books and they are very good. In my opinion, you are a very good writer.
    I think when a reader picks up a book in excitement, claiming to a friend, “Oh, this is my favorite author’s new release,” might be a good definition of an author.
    Keep writing.

    Like

    • 29 Vic July 31, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Thank you so much, Carol! You’re right, I have much to be grateful for…especially when folks read my books and want more. You’re also right that writers HAVE to write. Keep at it! Best of luck.

      Like

  16. 30 Kim July 31, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Love your work, so you are already quite accomplished awards or not. Certainly understand.the need for outside validation. Look forward to reading Exit Wounds. Thanksfor your work.

    Like

  17. 32 Lee Lynch July 31, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Took me maybe 15 years and much validation from readers and friends, especially one friend who pointed out that I always think in terms of writing, which shocked me. I got no awards back then and they would not have convinced me. You’ll know when the mantle fits and you can wear it comfortably.

    Like

  18. 34 Beth July 31, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I’ve no doubt you’re an author…..and a fine one at that. You learn and grow with each book, you create a world that draws others in. I always look forward to your newest book, luckily, August is right around the corner. 🙂

    Like

  19. 36 yogilynda July 31, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Thirty+ books in, and I have similar doubts. 🙂 You’re sooooo very much an author, and this blog proves it!

    Like

  20. 38 georgi55555 July 31, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    In my eyes anyone who is published by a reputable publisher deserves to call themselves an author. Even those who only have their manuscripts and a roomful of reject letters is also an author of sorts. But certainly anyone who has passed the test and been published by a respected publisher should not doubt themselves. I have not read your books yet but I know from experience that any BSB book will be written to a high standard and it is only finances that stops me from buying them all. Have confidence, take courage, you are real!

    Like

    • 39 Vic August 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Georgi, I really appreciate this. That’s certainly a good way to look at it. I agree that BSB holds authors to a pretty tough standard, which is a good thing. It make a much better product.

      Like

  21. 40 Jo July 31, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Here’s another one: being able to quit your day job. Which would put you one up on, for instance, PD James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Anthony Trollope, William Shakespeare…..

    Like

  22. 42 Gina August 1, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    I read some books that a book company published thinking the person who wrote the books was an author . . . So I say you are an author based on the common definition of the word . . . The only question is are you the author you want to be? Only you can decide that . . .

    Like

    • 43 Vic August 5, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      That is really the question, isn’t it, Gina? I think I will always struggle for “perfection” (whatever that is in my craft), but even if I perfected the process, I will still wonder/worry about the product/outcome. Maybe it’s just me, but I imagine a lot of authors feel the same. Thanks

      Like

  23. 44 jo August 3, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I think you are a great author..your books are so well thought out…just got the book on my kindle can hardly wait to start it..thanks

    Like


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