An experience I had at a workshop in Denver.
She asked me what it looked like to be an author. A seductive smirk slipped across my lips. I knew the answer. I told her it was romantic; mysterious; beautiful; powerful; to have witty words at the tip of your tongue with a clever laugh and a casual literary quote always in your back pocket… it’s dreamy, to be an author.
She paused, taking in the stereotypical stars in my eyes. No, she shook her head. I didn’t hear her question. Not from other people’s perspectives, she clarified. What does it look like to be an author from inside your own soul?
I laughed nervously to fill the silence that fell between us. I started by fumbling on an attempt to say it would be amazing… of course. If I were a published author, I would feel so fulfilled and happy to be living my dreams… yet the empty and expected phrases coming out of my mouth dissipated in to the air; never for a moment believed by either of us. I would be happy, of course; fulfilled; proud. I might even feel like my body is finally connected to my soul… but it wouldn’t be ponies and unicorns. It wouldn’t be witty laughs and quoted words once the cameras are turned off and the book signings finished. The truth is, it would look normal.
An author is simply a face on the back of a book; a small paragraph describing a persona who is not interesting enough to be given a character arc. That is an author. It’s true, because an author is simply a writer who has become published. It is merely a title, really. And it’s not that different from the inside than where I am right now.
I wonder if I lost myself at all this weekend. My body feels worn down, my heart raw, as if I exfoliated off the layers of façade I’ve put on over the years. And it’s so funny, because I’m never going to fit in. I am not normal. I am a writer!!
The more layers I shed, the easier it became to introduce myself. Ironic, isn’t it? As the hours went by and the faces shaking my hand changed again and again, the introductions became easier. “My name is Maggie, and I am a writer.” And one day, I will be that picture on the back of a book; but still, I will not be normal. I don’t think I ever can be. I will have my own character arc and I will not be a persona. I will be an author who, first and foremost, is a writer. Because an author is just a name. But a writer, is a heart.
And I want nothing more than to be both.
M . A . Ryan