An author? An artist? This year as we tumbled through TurboTax, for the first time I had to claim a bit-o-income from my books. There was a box to fill in as to the nature of my business. I think it was a drop box, and among the choices I picked "author".
Who do I think I am? It would have felt about as comfortable to put "plumber" in the box. I'm an author? Since when?
I'm fairly well educated. Have a pile of post-secondary years of schooling, a few degrees. I've taken creative writing classes, but have little formal training on how to write a kick-ass story. Everything I know is from reading and reading.
Two kinds of reading. I know a good book when I'm in the middle of one. I've taken to analyzing great books to see what makes them tick. It seems I can't even bury myself in a novel anymore without asking, "Now why did the author do that?" Damn, I even make notes in the margins of my paperbacks.
I read books on how to write. Some purists think this is for rookies and maybe it is. I'm a rookie and I learn a ton from textbook how-to's.
Is it a skill that comes more naturally to some than others? Maybe. Honestly (and I'm not bragging here--no way) in my first manuscript, I did so many things RIGHT. Things that I didn't know were power hits until long afterwards. Then of course I wrote some stink pots after that, just to stay humble.
In my daily life, I spend a lot of time crossing back and forth between right brain and left--analytical to ctreative and back again. I think crafting a story requires both strengths.
I keep thinking I just got lucky. I have four books out on the street (figuratively and almost). That's it for me. I'm done. I've written the last piece of publishable work. I'll go back to whoever I was before I became an author.
I hope that's not true. I've got characters standing in front of me with thier arms crossed, tapping thier toes. "Write me." There are days when I want bundle those characters up, throw them in the car and drive them over to a real author's house and tell her to write the stories. They're worth telling.
I'm going to shop the book store today for a new how-to book. I hope I don't end up in the plumbing aisle.