Advice, Author, Craft, Doubt, Fiction, Goals, Motivation, My Books, Novel, Tips, Writing

On being an accidental author

In case you tuned in late to this blog, maybe I should explain that I started it as a public journal of my adventures in writing. I often confess things a professional author should probably keep to herself. Lately, I’ve come to doubt my professionalism. Maybe I’m more an accidental author.

I stumbled into writing The Brevity of Roses for publication. It was inspired by a dream, written into a story for myself and a friend, and then kept growing. I joined a critique group for help. I read books and blogs and sites to learn how to write better.

For the two years I wrote, edited, and polished, I thought about little else than Brevity. What I didn’t do was think about myself as an author. I didn’t think about a writing career in any sense other than generally. I didn’t think about being where I am now.

In a sense, I feel like I’ve just awakened in a strange place, confused and … nekkid. What the heck have I done? I feel so exposed. Of course, it’s only my writing that’s exposed, but it’s hard to see that as separate from myself.

I can no longer pretend that my writing is this or that, that the story is something it’s not. Some days, that hits me hard and I want to hide my eyes and pretend you can’t see me. I think about closing this blog, my Twitter account, and my Facebook Page. On the worst of those days, I consider pulling my novel off the market.

Then, something else clicks in and I lecture myself. So you’re not quite the writer you want to be. Keep working at it. So you jumped in the deep end. Dog-paddle for all you’re worth. Whether you got here by accident or design, you’re an author. Suck it up and write—and keep writing until you reach your goal—and then you’ll continue writing because you’ll be the writer you always wanted to be.

Professional or not, I wanted to be honest about my journey. I hope none of you do or ever will feel like an accidental author, but if you do, remember you’re not alone. Just keep writing.

26 thoughts on “On being an accidental author”

  1. On the worst of days I feel like an accidental person! But I keep taking that next breath. 😉 You’ve hit on my biggest fear. What if my writing doesn’t reach some expectation. Yikes! I suppose we should take refuge in the fact that there is a balance point between what we desire and what is possible and once we find that balance we can learn to be comfortable in that place.


    1. Maybe that’s my problem, T.A., I’m an accidental person all around. 😉

      Considering your question, does it matter most to you that your writing reach your expectation or someone else’s?


      1. That’s a hard question! I imagine I’m my biggest critic and that will be the hardest balance to acheive. However, I also think I’ll always have that nagging fear that I’m not meeting the expectations of others, even though I’ve become more secure with who I am and what I’m about.

        But don’t you think we all face both of those demons with various measures at differing points in our careers? I don’t think I’ve ever read a writer’s blog that said they are 100% confident 100% of the time.


        1. No, T.A., I haven’t read any author say that. I’d be rather surprised to, actually. I can never remember the name of the “law” that someone has quoted here saying the degree of confidence is usually in reverse of those most accomplished. I probably butchered that, but the sense is that usually the best writers are the first to doubt their ability. And I do NOT intend that to say I’m counting myself among the best writers. 😀

          I think you’re right, secretly we all hold ourselves to a standard we’ll never reach, but I think we also have a more realistic goal. That goal will change as our writing improves. Maybe we’ll move the bar higher with each book. So I suppose I should have written “keep writing until you reach your goal at that point.”


  2. Linda and it’s not just fiction writer who feel as you do. When I put my little book on being ‘Suddenly single’ out there I exposed all my fears and hurts following my husband’s death. So just keep writing.
    I have ordered a copy of your book (as I have said before) and am waiting for it to arrive.
    As Carl says, this blogging community is a mostly caring place. We make friends with folk we will never meet but who become important to us.:)


  3. I think it is a normal thought. I feel like an accidental author most days. I woke up Saturday morning with a fear that no one would show up for the launch of my second book. Perhpas they only came for the first one because they felt sorry for me etc.etc. The book launch was a huge success but still I can’t help feeling that maybe I am an accidental author. But accidental or not – we are published authors!! (That is more than many can say)


    1. Forgive me, Darlene, I missed responding to your comment.

      I’m glad to hear your book launch went well! Yes, of course, we ARE published, whether we properly prepared for it or not. Your “accident” seems to be a fortunate one. 🙂


  4. The day you feel you can’t get any better is the day you need to stop writing. As long as you have the desire to get better, you will. The best authors are the ones that have been writing for decades and still aren’t satisfied with their work!


    1. I believe that’s true, Taurean. I remember reading an interview with my favorite author, Anne Tyler, and being shocked that she said she still struggles with doubts about her writing. I guess even winning a Pulitzer shouldn’t make you stop striving for excellence.


  5. Self-doubt is a given for serious artists, or serious anybody, for that matter. An indulging in one’s feelings of inferiority seems to come with the territory too. Oh, yes, I know the feeling, too. So what else is new?


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