This marks the beginning of what we hope will be a long and interesting run of interviews, book reviews, point-of-views, and how-to’s. For a thorough tour of the magazine, please visit our About Us page.
While Author is devoted to the written word, and book publishing in particular, we do not consider this exclusively a “writer’s magazine.” That is, while we are here to support and inform writers of all disciplines with industry news and advice from veteran writers, we aim ultimately to focus on the writer’s journey, which is a kind of microcosm of every person’s journey. I realized this one day while giving advice to a young writer, when it occurred to me that, except for the stuff about agents and semicolons, the advice I was giving could apply to anyone.
Whether you are published or unpublished, whether you’re are a devoted journaler or an avid e-mailer, whether you would rather read a book than ever jot down a note, everyone, from the first kindergartener to the last Nobel Prize winner, is an author. Everyone is the author of his or her own life. Everyone must decide, moment to moment, day to day, what to do next. Build a house or drive an RV, marry or divorce, start a business or take the promotion, regular or decaf—every moment is a choice. Every choice has a consequence, every choice is its own road, and so the story of your own life unfolds.
The choices you make are, with a few rare exceptions, made in the privacy of your own heart. All the “How To Be Happy Books” ever written, all the religious texts, all the sermons and graduation speeches and lectures on our mother’s knee, all the lessons and advice in the world always boil down to this: Be not afraid. Anyone who has ever done anything knows that fear is the first and only obstacle in the road. Oh, but what an obstacle! What makes fear such a formidable foe is that only you can see it. Only you know what you fear, and only you will know when you are not afraid anymore. We are all here for each other with loving company, but in the end, at that critical, defining, life-affirming moment of choice, it is a journey of one.
What makes authors such good candidates for our sympathy in the journey is that they are, by the nature of their work, more upfront about the choices and the solitude. Every author begins with the blank page, and there is no instruction manual on how to fill it. The “How To” books lining the shelves of Barnes & Noble cannot answer this one fundamental question: What interests me? That is the real puzzle every author must solve, and it is surprising how much courage it takes sometimes to answer such a lovely, noble question.
One last note about this page and Author in general. Nowhere on this site, if my editor’s pen is properly sharpened, will you read some variation of the phrase, “It’s hard to become a published writer.” If you wish to hear it, there are plenty of people in the world who will be not just happy to lecture you on the difficulties of climbing Mount Published, but may even feel it their duty to talk you out of approaching its base. You won’t, however, hear it from me. If you are here to write then write you must, and how hard it is or isn’t to be published does not need to enter into the discussion. It might take a little while, or it might take a long while—it doesn’t matter. Your choice has already been made. What would be hard, what would be painfully hard, would be if you wanted write but were afraid to choose to do so.