Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Beyond the Book: When I First Felt Like an Author
When did you start thinking of yourself as an author?
I wrote my first story when I was five. My dad had read me a Little Golden Book about Woody Woodpecker (a cartoon character from back then), and I decided I should write a story myself. I know it was good. It must have been because my dad laughed the entire time he was writing it down. I had to dictate it to him because at the age of five I couldn’t write. He wrote it in pencil on notebook paper and put it in the cedar chest where my parents kept important papers. After his death I found the story and brought it home. It’s one of my greatest treasures.
I didn’t write anything else until my children were grown up. One day my son handed me a manuscript and said, “Will you read this for me? It’s a book I’ve written.” Would I ever! The book was good. It needed editing of course, but for some reason he lost interest in writing and never did anything with it.
For me, though, his story was a pivotal moment. I’d always thought it would be fun to write a book so I thought I’d give it a try. After a rocky start I couldn’t get the words down fast enough. Writing was just so wonderful! I’ll never forget how nice it felt to finish that book. I felt a great sense of accomplishment, but I didn’t really think of my self as an author or a writer.
Nobody much liked that first book so I wrote another and entered it in a contest whose first prize was publication of your book. To my great and utter surprise I won. Still, I didn’t really think of myself as an author. I think in my mind I was thinking you had to be a Nora Roberts to be called an author. All of that changed the day the mail delivered a box of books to my door. I pulled my book from the box and stared at it for a long time. I was an author! I was holding my book with my name on the cover. Yippee! I’d done it. Things even got better when I saw my book on the shelves in the library and at the bookstore.
So, I’d have to say that I first felt like an author when I held my book in my hands. Winning the contest and signing a contract hadn’t done it for me, but the finished product was tangible proof that I was really an author.
The book cover at the top of the page is the cover of that first book. It’s out of print now because the publisher died, and they closed the company. That’s probably a good thing. Let’s just say I’m a much better writer now than I was then, LOL. However, I do still love the story. And interestingly enough, the book was only in print, not electronic format for many years.
Authors, what about you? When did you feel like the real deal?