I edit a magazine called Author, host a radio show called Author2Author, and have recently published An Author’s Companion because to me what it means to be an author is more important than what it means to be a writer. And I don’t mean getting stuff published, though that is always nice. I mean accepting your own authority and sharing it. Even when I was a very young writer I would sometimes write something – maybe a poem, or a paragraph, or even just a sentence – that felt as if I was seeing or hearing something true that already existed that I then translated precisely. When this happened, what other people thought about what I had written was irrelevant.
What I was translating was my authority. Finding it and translating it is the finest experience writing can offer me. In fact, nothing else in my writing life really matters. Everything else is simply not that. I don’t actually care about writing good stories, or good writing, or honing my craft, I only care about that authority.
There is a lot that can get between that authority and me. Praise can be very distracting, as can criticism. Needing money can be immensely distracting. What other people are writing is also bothersome if you compare your work to theirs. Yet all of this is a part of being an author, of taking this work out into the world where people praise, criticize, charge you money for food and shelter, and are doing their own writing.
And so hopefully this magazine, and the radio show, and the book can help us, myself most definitely included, keep our attention where it ought to be. In my experience, when authority speaks the world cannot help but listen. I do. I crave it in myself and in others. It is the friendliest voice I have ever heard, a place we can all rest from the wearisome business of trying to make right what was never wrong.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.