A fellow blogger, and regular commenter on this site, left a couple of comments recently that got me thinking about how we, as authors and writers, claim the Right to Write. What they shared was that they felt daunted by the thought of being worthy enough for payment; my interpretation of this is they believe they aren’t good enough.
Personally I love their writing; it’s thought-provoking and amusing by turns. It’s a reflection of life as they see it; and it’s authentic, full of emotion and life observations. If you think about it, isn’t this what all writing is composed of?
As I pondered on their comment, I started to think about what differentiates us, and perhaps it can be summed up in just a couple of simple attitudes and experiences:
- The first is having an attitude of self-belief.
- The second is having the experience of people appreciating what you do
I realise that my writing may not be great literature, but I happen to know it fulfils a need that other people have.
Back in the dim and distant days of the early web, I founded a social enterprise called The Hysterectomy Association, over the years it’s grown beyond anything I could have expected and it started to need an income.
My role as author began to fulfil this need and I self published because no publisher was going to take on books called The Pocket Guide to Hysterectomy and 101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy, and give us enough in royalties to pay the bills.
Women had told me for years that they appreciated what I’d done, they found the information helpful and timely; this was enough for me to believe I could put together the first of my books. My experience had primed me for the role I took on. Later, as more and more people bought the books and told me things like ‘it was my constant companion‘, I developed the self belief that sits alongside the experience.
Years later, I’ve developed enough self-belief to carry me into other subjects and genres, even completing my first novel. Yes, I’ve had ups and downs with all I’ve written, my novel in particular seems to have suffered by being too boring for many readers. I suppose the question is, will I give up fiction because of one set back? The answer is probably not; I’ve tested the waters, I’m exercising my fiction muscles and I’m continuing to pay the bills. I have enough confidence to know it will work, eventually.
Perhaps I was lucky, I started out in non-fiction, with a ready-made audience; but just having those things doesn’t make me an author. I claimed the Right to Write because I was driven by other needs and I’d like to say to my blogging companion, your writing is good enough and the only thing that needs to happen is for you to believe in yourself too.