Why I No Longer Aspire to Be an Author

Until this morning, my blog bio described me as “an aspiring author”. I see this term used often on Twitter profiles and writer’s blog About Me pages. As I considered the meaning of this term “aspiring author”, I questioned its worth in describing me. And then it occurred to me. I’m not an aspiring author.

I am an author.

According to Merriam-Webster, an author is defined as “the writer of a literary work”. To aspire is “to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal”.

Thus, what is an aspiring author? One who sits in front of the computer screen, hoping to finish one’s first manuscript? Once the first word is typed, one becomes the writer of that word, whether or not the work reaches completion.

"It was a dark and stormy night." HELL YEAH!

In my opinion, anyone who begins the serious work of writing a story, essay, article, or poem has begun to write, and thus has become a writer. He or she may aspire to complete the work, but they have made the transition from “thinking about it” to “doing it.” The next milestone would be “having done it”, and that’s no small task to be sure.

But what is the point in selling oneself short? It’s easy to talk about writing that novel, daydreaming, even discussing ideas with friends. But sitting down and making an outline, cranking up that word processor (does anyone even call it that anymore?), and braving those first few sentences has accomplished something real. They have turned “will do” into “am doing”.

So what about all of my friends in the Blogosphere, Twitterverse, and Facebookohedron who describe themselves as “aspiring”? Why choose to qualify their accomplishments? I feel it has a lot to do with a connotation of the word “author”, which implies that one supports oneself with one’s writing, or is otherwise considered “full time.” Considering the recent changes in the publishing industry, particularly independent self-published authors who take advantage of the online eBook revolution, I feel the image of the full time author is due for an update.

How many authors keep a day job? Lots. Thanks to Hurricane Irene, my day job was shut down for two days, giving me a taste of a full-time writer’s schedule. It was a writer’s holiday, for certain, and I took full advantage of it. Yet, however much I enjoyed the fantasy of sitting and cranking out word count in the serenity of my own home, I recognize that the responsibilities for my family and its financial well being need not sway my self-identity as an author. I can be an author and a draftsman and a brewer and a husband and a father, all at the same time.

I am not an aspiring father. I am a father. And I need not wait until my son has moved out on his own until I call myself “successful.” Creating a novel is much like child rearing, in that you invest your time and energy, and your manuscript grows and evolves to the point where you must one day release it into the world. You’ve begun the process; you’re an author. Own that identity without qualification!

In Curse Merchant news, my self-imposed deadline for finishing my first draft has expired as of midnight last night. Alas, I did not make my deadline. I’m sitting at roughly 74,000 words, and I am smack in the middle of my climax scene. I have two more chapters left in my outline after this scene… the Road Home and the Denouement. I’m expecting the first draft to finish around 78,000 words, and I do expect to complete the manuscript sometime this weekend. So, it’s not an unqualified success, but I’m not worried. By Monday, The Curse Merchant will exist in its first incarnation, after which I will take a deserved break from writing and begin first revisions to Omnipotence. I’m rather looking forward to it!

Image credit: graur razvan ionut

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