Adventures in Publishing or, I ain’t my job no more!

On November 11th this year, some kindly person was chatting with me and asked the invariable question new people ask – “what do you do for a living?” I opened my mouth to reply with my standard, well rehearsed phrases and almost – ALMOST – gave my usual, often disenchanted response – “well, I work for xxx.”

I couldn’t say it. The words, long tired and false, stuck in my teeth and wouldn’t come out.

You see, for the first time in my life I could answer with something other than “I work for corporation X.” For the first time in my life I could say what I’ve wanted to say for years – in every waking hour of my whole existence. For the first time in my life I could feel a soul-pleasing, deeply truthful, my-inner-child-is-so-proud-of-me reply:

“I’m an author.”

“Really? Have you published anything?”
“Why yes, yes I have.”

You see, on November 10th, my dream of becoming a professional novelist, a writer, a scribbler, an author came true. My first book was published and put up on Amazon for sale. Now, you don’t really have to be published to be an author deep down inside, but it sure helps. My new friend proved that when she double checked that I wasn’t only an author wanna-be, but the real deal. Published. We do that in our culture. We put some very serious stock in recognition of our credibility. And this time, I had it.

I often tell the story of how my mother would bring home mimeograph paper that wasn’t clear enough to use on one side, had been tossed out, rescued, and brought to me so that I could use the clean side to type out my stories. What I don’t often share is what ridiculous clunkers I wrote. Oh my, I was lucky they didn’t have a scent, because they would have reeked! And yes, I still have many of them and love them for being part of the whole learning experience.

Alas – or perhaps hooray! – my learning experiences aren’t done yet. I still need to master the art of tracking royalties and special requests. Oh my, when tax time gets here I’ll have a whole new set of lessons. And I can’t spend the word count on this post to even begin with the processes of self marketing. I may never quite “get it” for a long time. Good thing I have writer friends.

The hardest lesson will be unlearning years of compliance training that I am my job. Not anymore. I may have a 9 to 5 to keep my rent consistently paid, but I am not that person anymore. One could argue that I never was. I am not a sales associate. I am not an order specialist. I’ve done those things for survival but they and I were never the same thing.

You heard it here – I am an author. Published. Paid (oh yes, that was definitely reinforcing.) Promoted.

I am an author.

8 thoughts on “Adventures in Publishing or, I ain’t my job no more!

  1. Hmmm. I’ve never replied with the name of my employer. I’m a glassblower. I’ve worked for several companies no one’s heard of in Silicon Valley, as a glassblower. Even though I haven’t been employed in years, I’m still a glassblower. I’m studying entrepreneurship to start a business but I’m still a glassblower. Even when I’m selling books or whatever to make money, I’m a glassblower. If you see Mr. Wells lecturing on glass oddities or the history of glass at the Adventurer’s Club, I made those objects. I’m a glassblower.

  2. I’m a writer, and since i got my first job out of grad school–the first that wasn’t in a store–I’ve always said “I’m a writer”. Of course, most of the time, the other person would say “Oh, have you written anything I might have read?” which is a subtle enough question not really meant to be an insult (If you had, they wouldn’t have to ask.) And I would have to say “Well, probably not” and then explain the kinds of technical stuff I do write, then have to explain *that*.

    But the first day my first copy of my first book came home, I didn’t stop beaming and pointing out the author’s name on the cover. “That’s me! See that? That’s my name!”

    It’s different. It really is. 🙂

  3. Katherine Gilraine

    It just feels liberating to say that you’re an author, honestly. First time I said it, it almost felt foreign (just after I wrapped up the first version of my first book…which then underwent three years of editing). Now, I can’t imagine any other answer.

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