One of the things that I like about Patrick Lenton from the fantasy world of Aelyria is that he introduces himself as a writer. No vacillating, no ‘I’m a digital marketer but also an author’ no ‘oh you know… trying to be an author’. I suppose it would be weird claiming to be a digital marketer. What would be the Aelyrian parallel? Town crier of the… astral plane?
In my current storyline, I’m being asked by a gnome and a dog man what my occupation is, and that world’s Patrick Lenton is like ‘writer’. He is off to do some writing. And of course, I haven’t given that Patrick a day job. In Aelyria, he earns all his money from writing. This is a fantasy world, after all.
It was fun when I was travelling to experiment with saying ‘I’m an author’. I’d just had my book of short stories released, so it felt the truest it ever has. I managed to do it a couple of times without slipping up, but often I’d follow up with ‘not that it makes me any money’ or ‘you know, I work too.’
There’s a lot of well meaning and aspirational articles and memes aimed at writers that basically says ‘you ARE a writer, if you write, you are a writer, identify as a writer, asshole!’ and I agree to a certain extent. I do. I am a writer. But am I an author? Someone asked me the other day if my ultimate goal was to be a full time writer, and I paused. That’s the dream, I suppose. But I’ve worked in trade publishing for years – I know how difficult it is to make a living. Almost impossible, really. There’s no middle ground anymore, no mid-list. You have to be J.K. Rowling or nothing. So I’m ready to support myself to pursue my writing, that’s a reality I’m comfortable with.
I’m currently not comfortable with the amount I’m writing, the demands of a full-time job that I love meaning that my writing output is much less than I hope. I would like to solve this somehow, but that’s a different issue for a different day. Would upping the percentage of time I spend writing make me more comfortable in saying I was an author? How much? 60%? 80%? Or is it always going to be about how I make my living. I don’t know yet.
This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.