What am I? And, maybe more importantly. where am I headed? I frequently ask myself these questions.
It’s been almost a year since my book was published, so I guess that mean’s I’m an author. When I meet someone who asks me about myself, I still don’t find it easy to say, “I’m an author.” I’m not sure why that is.
Book marketing is an impossible, uncomfortable, self-promoting beast to me. I probably could think of a few more adjectives to convey my strong emotions on the subject. But an author doesn’t sell books without promoting those books.
Then there’s the word writer. As a published author, I’m certainly a writer.
One has to write in order to publish, right? That makes one a writer. Or maybe it doesn’t.
I can and will say I’m a listener. Now, don’t get me wrong. In the right circumstances I can talk someone’s ear off. Ask my husband or my kids. I can latch onto a topic I enjoy and just perseverate. But I can also listen. I’ve even taken workshops and grad courses on listening.
My “research” for Conversations About Autism: Real-Life Experiences of Struggle, Acceptance, and was just – listening.
I set a recorder on the table, asked people to tell their story, and they would talk for two hours. Several women told me the experience was therapeutic. Maybe I should have charged them!
So, it would seem that the answer to question, “Author, Writer, or Listener?” would be “All of the Above.”
Here’s the caveat. Full disclosure. I feel, deep inside, like I never really “wrote” a book. I listened to stories, personal and emotional stories, and I pulled pieces of these stories together by topic. I added my own words in the book introduction and the chapter introductions, in hopes of providing a little background information for people reading the book.
Conversations About Autism: Real-Life Experiences of Struggle, Acceptance, and Hope has a low percentage of words written by me.
Currently, I blog, rather sporadically. Once the opportunity to listen to stories came to an end, I missed that. Following autism blogs allows me to virtually listen to the stories of others. That seems to fill a need in me.
Thinking of what to write in blogs, using my own words, often creates writer’s block. It’s hard work. At some point, I read that search engines don’t direct people to blogs during searches until the blog has forty posts. It’s as though Google won’t take a blog seriously before that. (So I read.)
When my other life activities shut down in March, I decided I would work toward forty posts. I’ve been sitting at thirty-nine for two weeks now. I haven’t been able to make myself write the next post – this post. What does that tell you? What does that tell me? I’m not sure.
Maybe I’m not a writer. Maybe I don’t like writing/blogging. Why am I forcing myself to write if, in fact, I don’t like writing? What would I do with my time if I’m not writing? The voices in my head.
Before I pulled the trigger to publish my book, my husband said something to the effect that we would put out the money for self-publishing one book. He knows that I still have pages of unused quotes on topics like education, medical issues, youth programs, adult programs and transitions. These are mostly organized and ready to send to an editor if I decide to publish a second book. Recently, my husband asked if I am going to publish a second book!?!? I’m not even sure what to do with that!
Am I a writer? I haven’t figured that out yet, especially since it’s been so much work to create post number forty.
I wonder if other authors or writer’s go through this. Tell me please.
4 thoughts on “Author, Writer, or Listener?”
Reblogged this on Retirement – My New Reality.
One has to write in order to publish, right? The board of directors president of the YWCA I used to work for was an attorney specializing in wills. Over a few years, she stole millions of dollars from her clients by creating phony certificates of deposit. During her short trial (she’s in jail now) she ‘wrote’ a book. It’s really just a bunch of lists: My favorite shoes to wear on a sunny day kind of crap. and she self-published it. (It’s sort of fun to read the reviews on Amazon because they are mostly from people whose parents got ripped off and the comments are beyond vicious.) Several years later when I self-published my memoir, my boss said “oh, just like Wendy”. I’ve never gotten over that comment. The hours I put into my memoir are incalculable. I dredged my best work out of myself at a personal cost of mental health and familial relationships (all repaired now). To have my book compared to that drivel really upset me.
To answer your question, yes, I go through the same thing all the time. I’m always wondering what’s the ‘point’ of my writing, as though it’s not enough that I just like writing, and I like communicating with bloggers. Will I write another book? Probably, but not while my kids are still at home. To do it right, I need to invest more time than I can afford.
I go through so many lulls in my blog, honestly, don’t beat yourself up. I want to write or share something interesting. I don’t want to read posts like Jeff mentioned – my top 10 favorite nail colors! would not be something I clicked on or would want to be known for. I definitely think you are all three.
I had hoped to write a book one day. But who would publish it? And then, who would read it? I battle self-esteem issues anyway, so I can easily answer those questions in a way that is not beneficial. But, maybe one day I’ll give it a try before I shoot myself down. I’ve also thought it would take loads of time and attention. I don’t have much of that right now, but maybe I will one day.
In short, I think you are all three. I am a good listener, I enjoy writing, and only once I had the courage to say “writer” – maybe one day I will join you and Jeff and become an author as well.
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I’m actually going through something like this. It’s the existential facet of impostor syndrome. And I have way too much experience with that beastie (my own blog sits empty). I’d recommend you sit yourself down and ask yourself why you write, rather than what or how or however much. Never those inconsequential things; they don’t matter. Once you’ve found the answer to your why, you’ll become undeterred to write – if that’s what you really want to do. It’s probably also when you’ll realise for whom you write. For yourself, like all writers should, or to be published. Write selfishly – always. It makes things easier that way. Once you let a book out, it’ll find its audience on its own. I can bet my life that someone will be searching to read exactly what you’d have written. In fact, you should write to read the book that hasn’t ever been written. One that can only ever be written by you. Flannery O’Connor, for example, wrote to make sense of the world, said she never understood or processed anything until she’d had it written down. We all have our reasons. And finally, why are you limiting yourself by choosing to define yourself only through what you do? Why not do all the things you enjoy? Why not be limitless? It’s perfectly normal for a person to have more than one passion. It’s what makes us human: empathy to be passionate. As for where any of us is headed is best not pondered upon. It’s not in our place to know something like that. Just stay on the path that your heart leads you to, and keep working hard. The rest will take care of itself. ^_^💚(◍•ᴗ•◍)
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