In short, I've been writing stories (and a few poems) since the events of 9/11. I've learned a lot over the years, enough to begin advising people newer to the journey than I am. Now I too still have much to learn, but I know enough to confidently offer advice and insight to those taking that first step.
The best part, is they have this way of teaching me too. For example, there's one person who I've been trading messages with. She's young in the craft, so young she doesn't see the signs within her that she's got a good shot at being a good writer. Stories taking over, ideas popping up without effort, that sort of thing. I've been offering advice, or finding those who can when we hit areas I don't know about yet.
In one message, she asked me the following:
"At what point did you feel you were an author, and could legitimately say you were one and make a Facebook page and website? Was it after you actually wrote the book or when you were writing it?"
Uhmmmm.... That's a good question. The Facebook and website parts are easy. Once I knew this was what I was going to do, I knew I had to get those things to do it well. Beyond that though, when did it happen? At what point did I start calling myself an author?
In truth I don't. I subscribe to the idea that an "author" is a writer who's work has been published. It's why I always say I'm a fiction writer. I mean let's face it, all I have are some ideas that sound good and read good to me, but have yet to make it onto shelves to be read by others. I don't feel like a full fledged author yet. I'm... to use a sport metaphor, I'm a prospect yet to be drafted by anyone. I want to play in the NFL, but I'm not there yet.
Of course it looks like I'm going to go undrafted (AKA, self-published), but that doesn't mean I won't still do well.
So will publication make me feel like an author? I'd like to think so. Maybe when I hold that first book in my hands I will. Yet, going back a bit, when did I start calling my self a writer of any kind? The first poem the day after 9/11? The documentary that I'd rather forget. The sci-fi whose world was born a few days after, but after I've grown and learned, I realize still needs work? When was the day I woke up and knew, "I'm a writer, someday to be an author"?
I've looked back hard trying to figure it out. Truth is, there may have been a day, I just can't remember it. Still, it's an interesting question. When do we know who we are? When did I know writing was going to be my life? What's the criteria to meet so that you can go from somebody just tossing words together, to an aspiring writer?
I'll let you know if I ever find out.