WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY AUTHOR IDENTITY CRISIS

I experienced my first Author Identity Crisis last month. It was not a new crisis situation for me, per se. I’ve been in this position many times before. The crisis […]

January 12, 2014 // Rebecca Pillsbury // No Comments //

I experienced my first Author Identity Crisis last month.

It was not a new crisis situation for me, per se. I’ve been in this position many times before. The crisis was simply this: I want to please everyone.

In day to day life, my words are delivered to a particular recipient—usually verbally, where I can pick up on subtleties in reaction and alter my course of communication in order to convey my message in a way that doesn’t offend, hurt, or appear to come from any source other than love.

But the written word is different. And especially, the written word that is to be published in a permanent printed form, with the intention of being dispersed all over the world for friends, family, and people I’ve never met to react to in their own unique way.

I knew when I began writing my book that I would not be able to control the response of any reader. Once my book was out there, it wouldn’t truly be “mine” anymore. It would be one reader’s source of entertainment, another’s tool for overcoming personal obstacles, and yet another’s opportunity to rant or make personal judgments—a vulnerable and challenging position to place myself in, for sure, but one that I’ve felt prepared to handle.

But what I didn’t anticipate experiencing was the wide variety of feedback I would receive from various editors, after sending my draft in for sample edits. They were all professionals—in the same position of wanting my work to be the best it can be, all trained in modern literary guidelines. Some made only minor changes to the overall vision of the manuscript, others wanted to dramatically alter the format and my voice. Why such disparity?!

I found myself wanting to implement all of their feedback, some of which of course was contradictory. This position put me in quite the funk because naturally, I simply can’t please everyone—not every reader, nor every potential editor. Therefore, I was overcome with confusion. Who do I listen to? What advice or suggestion do I implement? Which do I ignore? How many editors should look at my manuscript before it’s ready to publish? Will I ever finish this book? How much is this going to cost me?

These questions led me along a downward spiral of panic. What do I really know about writing, anyway? Am I actually qualified to publish a book? Should I get more training first? All of these voices wouldn’t shut up. Until I gave myself permission to not have to make an immediate decision. I sat with it for several days. I stepped away from all things book-related and instead spent quality time with friends, dogs, and a makeshift dance floor.

Finally, in the space between my busy thoughts, I was able to remember one of the key messages within my own book—all truth is subjective. All that we can ever claim as truth is our own personal truth—and even that can change from moment to moment. But my truth, right here, right now, is that I am where I am, and that is where I’m meant to be. My book may not read the way I think a “professional writer” might present it. It may not be groomed to have no single line that could be deemed offensive to some readers, or that might trigger others to call me a fraud.

And that’s OK. My book is not supposed to come through anyone else’s voice. Maybe it’s supposed to offend some people. Maybe it’s supposed to make someone angry enough that they write a critical review which serves as a catalyst for people to explore and question their own beliefs.

All I can do, all that I am responsible for, is speaking my own truth–using my own voice, my experience. I can own that. So, ultimately, I moved forward with working with the editor who I feel best enhances my story using my voice and my vision.

I am who, what, and where I am, because this is where I’m meant to be. And my story is meant to be told from this place, this perspective, at this point in time. There will be other stories, other books in my future that yes, will benefit from continued writing experience, wisdom, and maturity. But that’s for another time. This book is popping out of my pregnant belly now, and I am receiving sign after sign that it’s very near ready to be delivered (or at least incubated until other aspects of the publishing process come together).

It won’t please everyone. But I’ve reached a place where it is enough that I am so darn pleased with it myself. I cannot wait to share it with the world!

Much love and gratitude to those who supported me through my first Author Identity Crisis—you know who you are. And if you’re not one of them, don’t worry…there are guaranteed to be future author crises where your services may be rendered.