This essay is inspired by a recent episode of a podcast called Writing Excuses. If you're a writer, you should be listening to this podcast. It's on iTunes.
Let's browse our dear website FictionPress for a while, and see what we find, shall we?
"A short story. It's kind of hard to write a summary on something that's only 240 words long. You'll just have to read."
"There will be adventure, romance and a lot more. Sorry if my summary sucks, just give it a shot okay?"
"I don't know if this is any good or not. I'm just hoping you'll like it. Oh, and remember this is only the prologue."
"I'm new here and haven't had much experience in the literary world. I am an aspiring young author."
And so on. These are taken from summaries, author's notes, and user profiles. (I'm sorry if one of these happens to be yours - may I please use your summary?)
The title of the podcast this was inspired by is "Fake It till You Make It." Basically, act like a real, live, full-on, one hundred percent, red blooded, high and mighty, purebred, breathing, published author, even if you're not. Even if you're just an unknown poster on FictionPress with one story that has one (or none) reviews, you're an author.
If you're not an author now, when will you be? When you get your first review? When you get ten reviews? When someone asks you to beta-read for them? When you self publish? When you're really published? When you hit the best seller list? The correct answer is, none of the above. You're an author now. You're a writer! You're just as much a writer as Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Orson Scott Card (my personal favorite), J. K. Rowling, and even J. R. R. Tolkien. How cool is that? You're already numbered among them!
But, as with anything in the world, with great prestige comes great responsibility. I know I'm an author. I'm a writer. So I try my very hardest to behave just like I would if I were approaching an editor asking, "Hey, are you interested in hearing the pitch for my novel?" So what exactly does this entail?
Mostly, it means no apologizing. See the list at the beginning of this essay. When going up to an editor, you don't preface every sentence with, "Sorry, this might be bad." Let him make his own judgment on that. And even if he does think it's bad, it's surely not going to help anything if you apologize. When it comes to writing, an apology doesn't help anything.
More broadly, it means taking yourself seriously. Real authors write summaries. So you'll write a summary! (If you need help with summary-writing, I have an essay on that!) Writing a summary gives weight to your work, if only in your own mind, and that's what really matters. But really, it gives weight to your work in the eyes of others, too.
The words that you post are as professional as you can get them (I hope). They're serious to you, so don't discount them in an attempt to appear cool and collected. We anticipate that people are going to see weaknesses in our work, so we cower and apologize, even though I'm sure most of us like what we post. If you like what you post, own it! If someone criticizes, still own it! It's not bad to be prideful about your writing. If you're anything like me, your writing is your baby, and every parent is proud of their child.
You are a real writer. Right at this very second, you are a writer, just like I'm a writer, just like everyone on this site is a writer. Some of us are better writers than others - just like Tolkien is a better writer that Stephanie Meyer (okay, I think we can all agree on that one). But that doesn't change anything. You are a writer, and you have a responsibility to behave like one. You have a responsibility to set a model for all the new writers who join this site every day. And if you take yourself seriously, we will all take you seriously.
Once again, thanks to Writing Excuses for the essay idea, and remember to log onto iTunes to check it out, or visit .com for archives for all 8 seasons.