In our last post we talked about how important our identity is when it comes to emerging as an author. But it’s a tricky subject! Most of us within the same culture, at least, pretty much know what behaviours, beliefs, and mindset go along with being a good student, a good life partner, a good parent, a good teacher, a good executive, and so on. And if we decide we want to become a good (fill in the blank), we will integrate the behaviours, beliefs, and mindset that we believe align with that self-image into our identity. They are typically either floating in our cultural understanding or we can ask someone who is already the kind of person we want to be, or we can research the characteristics that we need to acquire, or we can be mentored into it.
Where most of us draw a complete blank, however, is when we tackle the identity aspect of writing a book. Whereas an individual might think, “Hey, I’d like to become a world-class real estate broker,” if they really mean it, they will boldly roar out to do the work that will take them there, including integrating that persona into their identity. When it comes to the idea of becoming the author of a fabulous book, however, many people freeze in their tracks, hide the fact that they are working on a book, convince themselves there are already enough books on the topic they want to write about, and decide that nobody is ever going to read their book anyway so perhaps they should take up macramé.
Oh, I did that too while I was working on my first book. But once I was actually published, it was impossible to avoid bringing “published author” into my sense of who I was. “Published author” became part of my identity. And I will never not be an author, at least in this lifetime.
The Catch-22 here is that as valuable as it is to practise the feelings and behaviour of a published author before that is actually true for us, the idea of becoming a published author is so stirring, and something so worthy of reverence, that it is pretty much impossible to pretend to ourselves that we’ve already done it. It’s kind of like claiming we have won the Nobel Prize in Physics even though we came pretty close to failing the subject in Grade 11.
One of the challenges to self-identifying as an author: I believe that in our culture, becoming an author isn’t so much something we think we earn and work towards, it’s something we consider so lofty that it needs to be conferred upon us. Like an award. And we all know how much competition is involved in winning an award. Most of us are not ever going to be candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, for example. In fact, how many of us win any prize of any sort during the course of our lives? So, who are we to think I might be worthy of the prize of becoming published? Who are we to practise having the identity of a brilliant “prize winner” who got published?
Most of us don’t want to come across as being conceited and, in that context, macramé, starts to look like a pretty good alternative.
Are you interested in taking a few more steps into this idea of an author identity? Please stay tuned for my next post on the topic!