Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The conversation went like this: "When I was pretending to be an author today..." and I told the story. My much-loved friend, always brutally honest and tactless, rolled her eyes. "Give it a rest, Sandy, it's getting bit tired. You are an author. You've had lots of books published and you've got that award sticker thingy."

I've been thinking about her comment a lot because she's often right. And I think she is again. Why don't I feel like an author? Why do I hide behind throw away lines like 'when I was masquerading as an author.. "? I have seven trade and education books published, another one due out in 6 months, two more contracted and four more accepted. And yes, I have a CBCA shortlisting sticker. So what's my identity crisis all about?

Finding your author identity is a tricky business and one I've often heard my yet-to-be-published and newly-published friends talk about. For me it all began when I first realised I was an aspiring author. I never had a problem with the 'wannabe author' tag as I always knew 'you have to wannabe if you're gonnabe' And this became my mantra of sorts. But what was I? I wanted to be something that said I was professional about wanting to be an author. I was attending courses, workshopping and writing lots. But when I was at these seminars and conferences with the real authors, who was I?

Another friend, a much published author, helped me out. "You are a writer," she said. "A writer is a word craftsman who just hasn't been published yet." I doubt it's an official dictionary definition *grin* but it worked for me. I was a writer.

Then one day the call came. Walker Books Australia wanted to publish White Crane. In the two years between that call and publication I had lots of time to get used to my authorly skin. But I never did. And all of a sudden I was published with as my friend pointed out - books and a sticker. I think my problem was it all happened so fast. It's been less than 18 months since that first novel was published. I call myself the Cinderella author because it seems like someone has waved a wand over me. I joke and say I hope I don't turn back into a pumpkin in the middle of a school visit. But in truth, it does feel surreal.

And then there's this other problem - whenever I pick one of my books off the shelf - it doesn't read like a real author wrote it - it reads like I did.

It's been a month since that conversation and a transformation has been happening. I'm beginning to accept that I am an author. That the dream did come true. I've been doing a lot of school visits lately and that's helped me put it all into perspective because - when I stand in front of the class - I really do feel 100% author.

[Footnote: I picked the picture to load for this post from the White Crane launch files and then noticed what I had labelled it at the time: 'Author Impersonator' Ha! Karma.]


Robin Gaphni said...

Great post, Sandy. One I can certainly identify with. I always seem to stumble a bit on the "I'm a writer, but not yet published." Now that I blog I throw that in. But I think I just have to say "I'm a writer." and leave it like that.

By the way, congratulations on your "Cinderella story," which as we all know didn't happen over night, but involved a lot of hard work! You ARE an author.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, this post made me smile - not that I was laughing at you, but laughing at myself a bit I suppose! SO many writers say they experience this exact thing. It must be something about this industry - pursuing a creative career. We all feel like frauds, hiding amongst the 'real' writers and hoping we're not found out :)

I love your Cinderella story - it gives me much hope!


Jeffery E Doherty said...

It's about time you worked it out. We've all known for ages.

Oh! And can you ask your fairy godmother to wave her wand this way - a bit...



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