Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why do I want to author?

I suppose that's really a fair question to ask--if nothing else, it'd be nice that my wife knew, since she'll end up bearing some of the burden of the task. In fact, I dare say that most writers probably share their load with supporting family members and friends, each of whom pay some price for the success of the author, but may never get more than a mere nod in the acknowledgements.

But why write?  The field is immensely competitive. The new ease of self publishing venues virtually guarantees that the market will be flooded soon, if it's not already. Many (most?) of those authors will never get out of the "wannabe" realm. Many of them may not be good enough to get out of it anyway. That's not meant as a slam, but merely a likelihood.  In my observations, merely having your name on the cover of a book doesn't guarantee that you have any real skill, or that your book is actually worth reading.

That's pretty arrogant of me, I know, because with that there's the unspoken notion that somehow, I will be better than tens of thousands of "wannabes."  At risk of really sounding like a snob, however, I can say this: I believe I can write at least as well as several of the authors I've seen in print with a variety of publishers.

Of course, embracing hubris is a quick way to find oneself getting smacked in the face by great reminders of one's own nothingness; life has a way of putting us in our place.  And yet, I'm not saying any of this to brag. I really don't think I'm "all that."

If I have any talent whatsoever, it was given me by a higher source.  Along with that talent has come years of opportunities to develop that talent through practice and the good old "trial and error" method--believe me, I've written some really awful stuff. Lots, and lots of really awful stuff--things I'm ashamed to even have my name on.

Do I have room to grow as an author? Absolutely.  However, I think I've become good enough to fly, and I've seen improvement even over the course of writing my first novel for publication (The Cinderella Project).

Combine that with a number of other circumstances that have pushed me down this road, and I'm finally taking chances I was previously too terrified to take. Seriously, it's 100 times easier to support a family as an engineer than as a burgeoning author.  It's a snap to just punch a clock for a "9-to-5" and be able to expect a decent paycheck every other week.  I'd like to keep my day job, thanks, at least for a while.

The odds are stacked hugely against me.  I'm  a tiny, nameless fish in a massive and growing sea of literature, and it may well require a miracle to ever make enough money off writing that I could pay my bills and care for my family from this endeavour.

And yet, I'm willing to try, even knowing that it's going to be a long, hard road that's far more likely to end in failure and obscurity than in fortune and fame (really, I'm fine with just making ends meet and having a little to spare; it's nice to have some extra cash to help people who could use it).

I'm writing because I feel I'm ready for it, and because I feel called to it, even if that seems like a silly thing to say.

Somehow, I really do believe I've got a shot at this.  My support network is pretty amazing. :)

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