How do I be an author?
It’s a good question, a fair question, and not an easy one to answer.
Because, as much as authors would like it to be different, being an author is far different today to what it used to be. Writing is only one aspect of what is now a far more complicated “job description” that includes marketing and diversifying. But let’s step back from that a little and set aside all the practicalities. Let’s talk from the heart.
First of all, I’d say that you become an author.
[bctt tweet=”It’s not just about the writing or the publishing, though they are clearly important to an author’s being.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
But the act of becoming an author – having an author’s mindset – requires more than meeting word counts. I’m just waking up to how much more every day.
This past two months I’ve had the opportunity to take part in Joanne Fedler’s Author Awakening Adventure programme. Designed with an holistic approach, the eight-week course offers modules in consciousness (commitment, conscientiousness, courage and so forth) and craft (editing, scenes vs summary, character, etc). Participants are guided through the process via a Facebook group, Facebook Live sessions, pre-recorded interviews, action workbooks, and more. The work that has gone into creating this framework is staggering.
And, if you make the most of it, it’s transforming. Which is exactly what Joanne’s setting out to do – to transform writers from wanna-be authors into people who are being authors. People who are committed to their craft. Who will invest in learning, development, and asking the hard questions of themselves. Who are curious and courageous enough to put themselves out there.
“If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days–listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. You take home all you’ve taken in, all that you’ve overheard, and you turn it into gold. (Or at least you try.)”
― Anne Lamott,
That’s exactly what you do when you’re an author. You put yourself on the page and then you put it out there where you have no control. It’s an incredibly humbling, but vulnerable experience. As I said in a post for Louise Allan’s website:
Being a writer means serving your heart on a plate and hoping readers will be kind, will taste the complex flavours of your dish, and, even better, will want to know your recipe. Being a writer means accepting that what you write will not always be to everyone’s taste, and that there will be flaws.
As I’ve worked through the modules, I’ve realised (yet again) what a contradictory and complex person I am. I write to-do lists but not plot outlines. I like to plan my life ahead (mostly) but my stories and characters develop organically. I don’t like writing dirty drafts … but in the morning, I get more done if that’s exactly what I do. Meditating helps me relax but I struggle to get my mind to truly stop. I try to live in the moment, and then catch myself thinking about what I should have said that time someone annoyed me. Walking in nature energises me, but sometimes the thought of putting my shoes on and leaving the house is too much.
I’m optimistic and forgiving and a dreamer, but I’m also a worrywart who thinks (and over-thinks) way too much. I’m resilient and I can improvise but Self Doubt sits on my shoulder and I listen when it says hello. I’ve got two children’s books published and a number of romance short stories, but sometimes I think I’m just acting like an author, not being one. And here’s a big one: I’m better at the craft of being a writer than the consciousness.
Over the last few months, my busy-busy-busy mindset has been challenged, my excuses given a kick up the butt, and my consciousness a reminder that I chose this path: “Now make it happen”. I’ve learnt that there is such as thing as attracting good things your way if you live with intention.
So, while I’m working on being an author in my day-to-day life by creating space to put down words, I’m also becoming a more authentic author. One who has more than a dream – one who has taken her dream and is putting it out there, thanks to people like my writer friends, my wonderful Lollygaggers, my partner in Serenity Press Karen Mc Dermott, my critique partner Maureen Eppen, Joanne Fedler and the Author Awakening Adventure, and my husband.
“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”
― Anne Lamott,
PS. If you decide the Author Awakening Adventure is for you (the next course starts in 2018), tell Joanne I sent you.