I had a conversation a while back with family where the question was posed at what point do you feel like a “real” author. Is it actually writing the first book, being published, selling a certain number? When you are approached by your first fan or you see your book on a store shelf does it suddenly register that you have reached professional legitimacy? For me the answer is no.
All of those milestones have been significant and meaningful, but a lot of it still doesn’t feel real. I’m not sure if this is just another case of imposter syndrome or something unique to writers, but it is what is. With that being said with each of these various checkpoints it does seem to become more tangible. I think of myself less as someone who is writing and more as an author. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a 12, and the hurdle of getting a functional batman suit proved an impediment to my primary career choice.
Believe it or not, I remember the moment I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I was sitting on my parent’s front porch on a rainy Saturday afternoon finishing the last chapter of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always. The book had been recommended to me by my cool history teacher Mr. Williams, and it was thrilling. It was one of those stories that spoke to everything I wanted in a book. It had mystery, action, and this undercurrent of otherworldliness that made it feel like more was being said than just the surface level plot.
Today I own a signed first edition now and It’s still a favorite. I also wonder why on earth no one has made a movie adaptation. It seems like something that was tailor made for Guillermo Del Toro, just saying. Anyways, that book sent me down a rabbit hole that led to Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and others. I also knew when I turned that last page that one day, I wanted to write something that made someone else feel the way I did.
That moment would not have been possible without my local public library. At the time and for most of my childhood, my library was the Oak Grove Branch of the Lamar County system. I can’t tell you how many stacks of books I carried out of that building and into places like Narnia, Terabithia, Castle Rock, and Green Town. Myself and countless other young readers owe so much to these sanctuaries of literacy, and it’s a debt we will likely never be able to pay back.
My tab still continues grow in adulthood, because I have been asked to participate in something really cool. This month I’ll be conducting a book talk and signing at the same library in Mississippi that got me started on this journey almost twenty years ago. You can find the information on the flyer below.
It’s still tough to feel like this whole thing is real, but events like this are truly special. As a writer that appreciates the circular nature of storytelling, there is something about this that feels significant. I don’t know if I would say that I’ve reached that mythical point in the journey where Authorship feels natural, but it’s a big step. For those fans and friends in the Hattiesburg area I hope to see you there, and for those young readers who might one day go on a similar journey, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your experience, and good luck.