I, the author

Want to be an author? Don’t let others tell you otherwise.

You are not an “idle dreamer. Poor girl, she thinks she can write books.” That’s idle chatter.

You are a dreamer. Don’t let anyone give you drivel about idle, though. Every author was a dreamer—Austen, Bellow, Christie, Dahl… you really think all of their stories were based on real life incidents?

That is the world of art—art with the pen, the paintbrush, the needle, whatever: it is the world of dreams. Get that right. The more you dream, the better an artist you are.

You are a writer because you are not afraid to put those dreams down in words.

start your story now

Start your story now

Don’t let anyone tell you “you are not going to get anywhere writing books.” That is an armchair view, words from people who haven’t even taken that first step.

You are a dreamer and a traveler. If you have written your first few words, you have taken your first few steps. Don’t know where those steps are going to take you? That is the joy of the journey. The journey you are going to take your readers along on. They won’t know where they are going, either.

They won’t until you tell them, so reach them.

You are a writer because you keep those readers in mind as you write.

Let no man doubt “that you are smart enough to have it in you”. That kind of talk is derisive at best, envious at worst; it is talk from someone who hasn’t ventured out, and therefore doesn’t have it in him. Like with most things, becoming an author means breaking out of your cocoon.

You are smart enough, and you are talented enough, and you know it. You don’t have to be MENSA material to write a book. If Lewis Carroll had Albert Einstein’s IQ, he would have come out with the Theory of Relativity much before Einstein, and none of that craziness about little girls, mad hatters, rabbits with watches and disappearing cats.

alice in wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Come to think of it, I would say imagination trumps IQ for authors. Would you agree? Can you even imagine Einstein dreaming up the blue smoking caterpillar and theJabberwocky?

You are a writer because you let your mind run free and your hand run true.

Ignore losers’ talk about how “you just don’t know enough for your novel, you are never going to be able to complete all the research you need for your book”. That kind of talk comes from people are just too lazy to type in their keywords and hit enter in Google. Because that is all it takes nowadays… almost.

You are good enough to get your book going. What you don’t know, you are going to find out, because you want to finish your book in style, without errors. You know what information you want, and you know where to get it.

Have you ever read that masterful book Shogun? It is a book with all the right details in all the right places about seventeenth century Japan. The author James Clavell published the book in 1975, the twentieth century. As far as I have been able to find out, his major exposure to the Japanese was as a World War II prisoner in a notorious Japanese camp. In Singapore.

You are a writer because you do your research. And you take pains over it.

Turn a deaf ear to those who wonder: “Are you a good enough writer?” If you are not, what’s new?

Nobody is good enough. I wasn’t around when Shakespeare was churning out his stuff, but I seriously doubt that what folks have been reading down the centuries is the virgin stuff Shakespeare originally penned. Helpful people around must have been crossing his ts and dotting his is.

That is what support folks—your friends, your relatives, your ARC readers and other pre-publication reviewers, your proofreaders and editors—are for.

You are a writer because you do your primary job—write things—and you let the right people do the finishing.

You shouldn’t let people mess with your mind by letting people ask you, “Will everyone read your book”?

What exactly does that ridiculous question mean? Everyone doesn’t read any book. Not even the Bible. If every single human among the reading public read your book, you could probably buy out Bill Gates and take on Warren Buffet with the remaining change.

The all-time big seller is supposed to be Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, which is estimated to have sold over 500 million copies since it was first published in 1605.

don quixote

Don Quixote

We are talking about 500 million sales in over 400 years. Just to drive the point home: our world is now groaning under the weight of over 7 billion people. Take your own guess about how many of these people are literate, and how many actually read books.

You are a writer because you target the readership that enjoys your genre and your kind of writing. Just that limited readership. You are not even going to try to sell to 7 billion people.

There is an old saw in my part of the world about frogs. Say you have a bunch of frogs in a well. If any frog tries to climb out of the well, the other frogs will gang up on that frog and pull it back down. They are afraid of the world outside their well, but they will do all they can to keep any venturesome frog from actually trying out that world.

I have never bothered to test this story. What I do know is there is no shortage of humans who are like frogs in a well. Learn to keep the frogs out of your sphere.

Every day, get your nose down to the grindstone, your eyes down to the monitor and your fingers down to the keyboard. This frog will fly.

a flying frog

a flying frog

You are an author only when you are done with the writing and the publishing and everything else that comes in between. When you are done with all the folks who thought you couldn’t.

When you can tell the world, “I am an author”. Frogs be damned.

What about your own experiences with those who won’t dare, but don’t think you should, either? Would love to read in the comments.

I, the author

by Venkatesh Iyer time to read: 5 min