|Wow. A book. Does this make me a writer? Truly?|
All of the above are scenarios that have played in my head. Byline, check (articles in magazines), holding a book my hands, check (self-published two books). Seeing it climb up the charts, not checked (haven't written a bestseller...yet). My first book launch, check (I arranged for the book launch of my self-published books). And yet, I still feel unworthy of the title "writer" sometimes. Actually, the term is "published writer." I technically qualify as a published magazine writer. But because my two books were self-published *and* not bestsellers...I feel like I failed in the arena of "published book writer."
But of course, that type of negative self-talk doesn't help at all.
I'm reading a book on self-publishing right now called APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) by Guy Kawasaki. And I love the idea that he puts forth: the artisanal publisher. It's about a writer who deeply cares about the writing process that he/she takes care of the book from start to finish. Of course, I didn't heed his advice (I hadn't read the book yet) when I went ahead and self-edited. But it's a great lesson learned. Because of what I learned from APE, I made my two books absolutely FREE on Lulu.com, iBookstore and Nook. Who in heck knows Justine Camacho Tajonera? No one. And why should I expect people to read what I write, anyway? Let's face it: writing is about sharing something that means something to the audience reading it. So...if I would write, anyway, without getting paid...I should thank my lucky stars that I have a tool to actually reach an audience. That's why I gave away my books. I want to be read. That's all.
So...to go back to that question....What will make me truly feel that I've made it as a writer? That I've been read. A writer's lifeblood is to have shared something valuable to others. Truly...that's what it boils down to. At least for me. Will I make a living from it? Maybe not. But I dearly wish it would help pay the bills too. Did Emily Dickinson make a living out of her poetry? Heck no. But is she a writer? No one would debate this fact. Point made.
Writing is a passion that cannot be quenched. It's a blessing and a curse. If the muse has called, she cannot help but be answered. Otherwise, the one who heard the call would be tortured by eternal "what ifs." I love Elizabeth Gilbert's fascinating TED talk about the writing process. I love it so much, I'm embedding it below. I like the idea that writers are vessels. For a few moments we are lit up by genius, by the divine and we cannot help but share it. Let not the idea of individual glory fill our heads.