Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Fantasy and Fiction of Success

All authors are frauds.

At least, we think we are. At least, most of us do.

For years, I figured it was just me. I figured all the other authors out there were “real” writers and I was just faking it. They all knew what they were doing. I put them on that pedestal… you know the one—it’s where we keep our writers, artists, musicians, all those people who seem greater than we mere mortals.

Then one day I happened to be chatting with an author friend. And when I say “author friend” I mean “a REAL author who writes REAL books that people actually buy and read and love and OMG I can’t believe she’s wasting her breath on little old me.” I couldn’t believe it when she admitted that she has super-low self-esteem. She’s a popular author! People love her books! And still, she doesn’t believe she has any business up on that pedestal. I put her there, certainly, but she doesn’t think she deserves the honour.

A few months later, I read a blog post written by yet another author—this time not only a big author, a popular author, but a traditionally-published USA Today bestselling author who’d been on book tours and had huge contracts and lived the author life. And what did she say?

She felt like a fraud.

I couldn’t believe this author, this big popular REAL author felt like a fraud! A bestselling author doesn’t think she belongs on the “real author” pedestal? Well, if she doesn’t belong there, who does? Is it reserved for dead guys only? Authors of those classic we’re told we need to read whether we like it or not?

Who gets to be a real author when so very, very, very many of us who earn a living writing books still feel like we’re not good enough?

Authors are complicated beasts. That’s one reason I always said I would never write a book about a writer. It also seems like a cop-out to give your main character your own occupation. But when I came up with the concept for my book “Truth and Other Lies,” I knew my guy Kenny had to be a writer. There was no way around it.

And if most writers FEEL like frauds, I’ll tell you right now that Kenny really IS a fraud. Well, I shouldn’t say that. He is a writer. He’s been self-publishing a sci-fi series for a few years. His work is solid. But the novel that garners attention from hordes of eager readers and an Oprah-level book guru? Yeah, he didn’t write that. His name is on the cover, but those aren’t his words.

Looking back, maybe I wrote “Truth and Other Lies” as kind of a metaphor. Because one of the big reasons I feel like a fraud is that some of my stories don’t seem to come from me—not from my brain, at least. When I wrote “Truth and Other Lies,” it arrived out of nowhere. My fingers typed it, but where did the words come from? Not from me. From somewhere deep inside me… or from somewhere far outside.

Maybe that’s why so many authors feel like frauds. We don’t always know where our books come from. When all goes well, the characters take over. You might have heard they have minds of their own. It’s true. They really do. My characters write my stories for me. I’m just a convenient set of fingers for typing.

Oh, authors! Sometimes it feels like anybody could do what we do. These characters are just floating above our heads, waiting for an idle pair of hands to latch on to so they can tell their stories. No wonder we feel like frauds.

I write books for a living. That’s my career. I’m a writer. The work speaks for itself, so, ultimately, I guess it doesn’t matter whether I feel worthy, or whether I put myself on a pedestal. We authors don’t get to make that judgement. Readers do.

Truth and Other Lies can be purchased from:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LICLQBG?tag=foxglovelee
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-truthandotherlies-1562486-145.html
BookStrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/truth-and-other-lies-mmf
http://www.evernightteen.com/truth-and-other-lies-by-foxglove-lee/

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