Since launching myself onto the turbulent waters of the book business, I have ‘met’ dozens of other new authors. Not new writers, as most of us have been writing since forever, but newly emerged as authors. It takes a certain amount of courage to ‘come out’ and admit to your secret vice. Not only admit to it, but show others, complete strangers, what you have been up to all these years.
I had years of creating babies before I turned seriously to creating something a little less stressful that wouldn’t object if I shoved it in a drawer and ignored it for a few weeks. Writing is one thing, attempting to get published is quite another. It’s at this point, I think, that a writer becomes an author. Even if you never snag an agent, or sign a publishing contract, if you want to be an author, you can self-publish. Any writer who wants to, can become an author.
What decided me was hearing that the husband of a colleague of my husband’s had published a best seller. This character already earns a huge whack with his own business, his wife earns a huge salary, and instead of two beautiful kids, they have two beautiful homes. It struck me as so totally unfair, that someone who ought to have been fulfilled with his fantastic lifestyle, should have broken into print. And how! It was the classic case of: it should have been me!
The sense of outrage that this businessman with more money than he could ever need was sitting there where I should be, right at the top of the best-seller list, galvanised me into action. I joined a writers’ group, got my mss sorted out and went about getting published in a businesslike manner.
Which, in a long-winded way, brings me to my point. Why do we do it? What is it that pushes some people to take the step from being a writer, a Sunday scribbler, to becoming an author? Why is the urge for recognition for having created something, often stronger than the urge to excel in a chosen profession? It seems to me that almost everyone feels the need to create something unique, whether it is literary, artistic or scientific, but most people never go beyond the creation. The sketches and photos stay in an album, the novel on the disc drive, the research passed onto somebody else.
For some people that isn’t enough. Some of us want, not so much fame, as recognition. I know that I get a tremendous thrill when someone whose opinion I respect tells me that they enjoyed what I wrote. Maybe it’s because it is mine entirely, fruit of a fevered imagination and weird dreams, but certainly all mine. It might not be the pyramids of Gizeh or even the Guggenheim Museum, but the writers who want to be authors also want to leave their little monuments. Small ambitions are easier to realise, and sometimes it’s better that way.