Saturday, May 1, 2010


When did you first feel like a "real" author? The first time you took pen to paper? The first time you wrote a cohesive story - with a beginning, middle and end? The first time you let someone else read your work? The first time you had your work critiqued and were able to absorb the feedback and make changes? The first time you attended a conference? The first time you queried? The first time you took a work-for-hire assignment? The first time you got paid for your writing? The first time your work was published?

I think each of us has a different threshold. Some writers are never published, and that's fine with them. They write because they have to, no validation needed. Some writers dream of being published from the very first word. Others won't feel validated until s/he holds her book in her hand.

I had a phone conversation with an industry professional this week and received some great feedback on my book. The person treated me like a real writer. It was a wonderful feeling because, of course, I am a real writer. Have been since college. No matter that my first work-for-hire book just came out this past January, twenty years after graduation. Or that my novel is not quite ready to leave pre-query stage.

I am going to the NESCBWI conference this year because I am a writer. Writer's need networking opportunities, and workshops to enhance our skill-sets. I'll say it again, I am a writer. It is my career. It is not just a hobby.

I feel like I should be confident enough to not need the validation. But it feels darn good. What kind of validation do you need to feel like a "real" writer?


notesfromnadir said...

Sounds like you got enough validation to make you feel like a writer and that's what's important.

It does vary from person to person.

Mine was getting that first paycheck!

Aubrie said...

Probably when I got paid for my first short story. Paid means, got actual, real money!

But I'm still looking forward to the day I can hold my book in my hands...

That sounds like a great phone call!

Carole Anne Carr said...

I think it was when I had my first poem published, many moons ago! But I agree, you are a writer, once you begin producing work in any quantity and take the task seriously, you have joined the ranks of real authors.

Kaylie said...

It's hard to justify spending money on conference fees, memberships, etc. when I haven't gotten paid for my novel writing yet. But I do it anyway, because I know it can help me get there. I won't call myself an author yet, but definitely a writer.

Kris said...

Nadir - my spouse took my "hobby" seriously after the first paycheck. LOL.

Aubrie - Thanks! Holding that book will feel fabulous!

Carole Ann - You're right, it's all about how seriously you take yourself, isn't it?

Kaylie - conferences are well worth the investment in yourself and your craft. If not for last year's regional, I wouldn't have met my CPs and without them would have made the progress I did this year! Keep doing it!

Ansha said...

My moment was when an editor asked for a full. That's when it hit me. I had actually written something that someone wanted to read... someone who reads books for a living! I've been floating on that cloud for a year now. :)

Jen said...

Validation always feels great but it's best to be confident in yourself so that you can push yourself through the tough times. Having a husband on the side to help support your goals is always great.

I felt like an author the first time I put my words to the page, I finished my first draft and now well into revisions. That in itself is an amazing feeling.

Jonathon Arntson said...

My threshold is getting an agent. After that, it'll be selling my book, then getting published, then finishing the next book. I'll look for validation along the way because it just feels so good.

Anonymous said...

I think at each stage we need that bit of validation dangling in front of us to keep us going. At first it's just getting a personalized rejectiong, then it's getting nice comments, then a revision request, then an changes as we go.

Kris said...

Ansha - Yes! Someone who "knows" what they're doing says you've got something!

Jen - it sounds like you've got more confidence than some of us! Hold onto it!

Jonathan - getting an agent would be great -- but you're already a writer!

Laura - the carrot dangling (or chocolate) is what has kept me going. Each little piece of validation along the way keeps us from putting the pen down.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I was just at a conference and it is awesome to connect. It is those things that we can relate on (like there isn't any monetary validation for years and years) that make me feel all the more like a writer.

I think it is hard. But getting better all the time.

Cool about getting paid and the talk with the agent. I cannot wait to hear about the conference. I am jealous of that. You are going to get to see some cool bloggers AND they are going to get to see you!

Kris said...

Tina - Connecting goes a long way toward validation. I'm also looking forward to meeting some blogger friends! Can't wait!