I have a serious confession to make…
Ready for it?
Promise you won’t tell anyone?
Okay, here it is…I’m a fake author.
You see, I get asked all the time: “What does it take to be a writer?” People that because I’ve published several books I’m a somehow a guru in all things writing, guiding inspiring novelists along the beaten trail to find the secret “author success” formula at the end of the rainbow. The problem is that I’m not even sure if I’m a real author myself!
When you think of an “author” what do you see? A man with a knee-length gray beard in a secluded mountain cottage surrounded by nothing but paper, a pen, and the mystifying wonders of nature? Someone who gleefully arranges their Alphabet soup into compound sentences? Speaks in Shakespearian English? Reads War and Peace to relax in the bathtub? The problem is that I’m none of these things (seriously, my cheeks grow less hair than a naked-mole rat).
Exhibit A: I currently sit in a lazy-boy recliner with my laptop propped atop a flimsy TV-table “desk”. To my right, littering my makeshift bookshelf/side-table is an empty can of Red Bull and several crumpled granola bar wrappers left from the days I was too distracted (read: slothful) to cook lunch. There’s also a bottle of extra-strength lavender frebress to combat the potent stench wafting from the one-eyed dog at my feet. The rancid mutt and I daily engage in a cosmic battle for noise supremacy between my European heavy-metal and his grating snoring. In short, my life falls miserably short of the standards to be a “real author.”
My complications started early on. In 5th grade my lowest mark was in English, prompting my teacher to conclude that my “responses reflect difficulties in understanding and interpreting literature.” When I reached college I thought my fortunes had changed… at least I did until my first Advanced Grammar exam was returned with the words “Boo Hiss!” scribbled on top in thick red ink. Later that semester I would find an earnest note pinned to my midterm reminding me “English majors must achieve at least an C in the course.” My loathsome grades highlighted what I already knew: I’m an atrocious speller and can’t comprehend the correct grammatical use of commas if my life (or college graduation) depended on it!
Wait, but aren’t you supposed to be an author? Exactly! Are you beginning to understand my dilemma? Can you imagine the pandemonium that would transpire if the world caught on to my ruse and realized that all along I’ve only been a fake author?
By now you must be wondering how a fraud like me managed to dupe this blog into letting me contribute a post on writing. Well, here’s the most bizarre part of the whole story: Amidst all these monumental shortcomings I’ve somehow managed to write 5 published books, exceed 25,000 sales, receive several nominations for year-end book awards, and have my work featured at some of the largest book conferences across the country, all before my 29th birthday…wait, what!? Pretty crazy, isn’t it? Wondering how such a blatant “fake author” achieved all that? The answer is simple – I wrote.
It’s inescapably clear I will never be the world’s premier technical writer. In fact, I had dozens of peers at school with oodles more talent than me. I’m also certain I will never sit atop the totem pole for creativity. I’ve had several aspiring writers share ideas that blew my own shabby concepts out of the water and sent them plunging to the dark depths of Davy-Jones’ Locker. However, the one thing I have done that far too many aspiring writers do not do is actually write.
You may be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in grammar and possess mind-blowing fresh ideas but if you never put words on paper none of it matters. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with what we must look, act, or be like to become a “real author” that we neglect the single most important task that all writers must do – Write. The reality is that for every Steven King, J.R.R. Tolkien, or J. R. Rowling, there are thousands of “fake authors” just like me. So don’t sweat it if you don’t live in a mountain cabin or know the function of an ambitransitive verb. So what if other people try and tell you will never succeed as a writer. None of those reasons can stop you from putting words on paper. Do that, and you never know all the crazy places it could take you. If a “fake author” like me can do it, what’s stopping you? Hope to see you at the Wire2Ignite Conference in April!