At my first ever book reading I was asked a simple question. One so straightforward, I wasn’t prepared for it.
“Are you a local author?”
That is a fairly common question for a person to ask at a book reading, right?
Somehow I blew the answer.
I nervously laughed and sarcastically joked, “I am local, but I don’t know that I would call myself an author.”
The nice woman who asked the question didn’t laugh. This was clearly not what she wanted to hear. “Oh, umm, okay,” she said as she walked away probably thinking, “If this guy isn’t an author, why did I just sit and listen to him read a book for 15 minutes??”
Looking back on it, my response showed that I was being protective because I didn’t want to feel vulnerable. Given that I have only written one book, and it had only been out for days, I wasn’t feeling like a true author. And even more, I was afraid to claim to be an author because I felt people might consider me a fraud.
After all, authors are people like J.K Rowling & R.L. Stine who have written numerous books and sold millions of copies, right?
How am I like them? Beside the fact that I use my first name and not two initials, I haven’t written multiple books or sold millions of copies.
Sure, those folks are authors at the highest level, but I now realize something.
I wrote a book and that is what authors do.
If I could go back in time and redo the conversation from my first book reading what I would say now, is simply, “Yes.” I would explain that I grew up in the area, thus making me a local author.
That is what this woman wanted to hear. She was probably excited to talk to an author from her city and was disappointed by my response. Who knows, had I just said yes, she would have been happy and maybe even told her friends about my book. I could have gained a fan or two. I could have sold more books.
But more than that, I needed to just own it. I don’t know that I will ever feel like an author in the proper sense. But I know that I definitely won’t feel like one if I keep shying away from it.
Instead of making jokes that land with a thud, I need to own my achievement and be proud.
I wrote a book, so I am an author. I need to own it.
What do you need to own?
Are you a guitar player in a garage band who is afraid to call himself a musician?
Or maybe you make magnificent doodles in a sketch book but you are ashamed to refer to yourself as an artist.
Whatever your case may be, learn from my mistake.
Own your art and you will be amazed where it can take you!