It’s hard to remember what it was like to not be a published author. Maybe it’s different for those authors who went the traditional route, got an agent and then a New York contract.
If that had been my reality in August of 2006—if, instead of getting an e-mail from Siren-Bookstrand, and embarking upon the journey of e-publishing, I got one from an agent instead—then I suppose it might be easier to remember the before times, because I doubt I would be standing at 22 novels published a mere 4 and a half years later.
You’d be right if you guessed I must spend most of my time writing. But when I try to recall how I imagined this would be, I don’t think I ever gave much thought to the actual process of the writing itself.
I envisioned the altered state of being a published author; I envisioned not having to hold a j-o-b; but I don’t think I thought overmuch about the actual work I would be doing, crafting stories.
I say crafting, because as much as this is an art, it is also a craft. The word ‘art’ implies that there is something transcendental about the whole thing, something maybe a little mystical, a little esoteric, a Divine gift, if you will. To a certain extent, for all of us who are writers, this is true.
Now the word ‘craft’, on the other hand, implies a deliberate honing of a skill; a practice-makes-perfect approach, a constant search for new, better, different ways to tell the stories. This is the most true aspect about being an author for the vast majority of us.
In each of us the ratio of God-given talent to acquired skill is different. In myself, as much as I wish it were otherwise, I’d say the ratio is 40-60. My father was a writer; if he hadn’t set it aside when he left school and went to work to first support his mother, and then later, his wife, who knows where his talent and work ethic would have taken him.
Of course it really is pointless to wonder. Life evolved as it did. This is my reality. I know that I have talent; and I know that I am a good writer. I am not, sadly, a great writer.
Someday, I might grow into being one, if I work hard enough at it.
Being a great writer to me has nothing to do with the genre you write. You don’t have to be an author of literary works in order to achieve greatness.
How would I define a great writer? One who is able to give you, within his or her words, an image so clean, so pure, that you not only see it, but you make it your own. As you read their words the writer disappears for you and you say to yourself, “yes, I am there. I can see it and hear it and taste it and touch it and smell it. It is real to me.”
I don’t fool myself by thinking of myself as particularly successful, and certainly not—as a friend of mine keeps telling me that I am—famous. At most, I have achieved a modicum of success and a measure of notoriety.
The latter, I would wager, as much as a result of these weekly essays as the 22 novels I have had published.
That is not to say that I am not pleased with who I am and where I am in my life. I am, and almost giddily so.
I get to do what I love to do most in all the world, all the time. I earn a living doing this that I love, and the most amazing thing of all is that people actually read my books. Lots and lots of people read my books, and isn’t that a miracle?
You have to have a dream in life, a reason to get up every day, to continue to put one foot in front of the other as you travel your particular path in this life.
Even at my age, even at where I am, right now, I have a dream. And each day I do my best to take as many steps as I can toward seeing that dream come to fruition.
I have the best life!