Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On Becoming an Author

In the interest of networking a bit more with the blogging community, I'm participating in this week's Book Blogger Hop. The question for this week is: Have you ever wanted to write a book? If so, what genre would you choose? And...have you been successful in writing a book? 

I think I probably first announced that I wanted to write a book when I was five or six years old. Throughout my childhood, in fact, I imagined that I would someday become an author, and I went to college still mostly believing that my future was in writing short stories and novels. I took all the creative writing classes I could get into, and then applied for the senior composition course. After being rejected from the course, and subsequently from an embarrassingly large number of graduate programs in creative writing, however,  I stopped writing almost completely. I would occasionally write collaboratively with a friend just for fun, but I wasn't really inspired to work on a writing project from beginning to end. I made a couple of attempts at NaNoWriMo, but they weren't particularly fruitful, and though I still had occasional ideas pop into my head, I mostly couldn't think of what to do with them. Creative writing, which had once come so naturally to me, began to feel like a chore, and a struggle, so I just walked away from it.

For a long time, I thought that if I couldn't write fiction, I wouldn't be an author at all. Nonfiction writing, including book blogging, didn't seem like real writing to me. I enjoyed writing book reviews, of course, but I was pretty terrible at writing English papers despite majoring in English, so I figured nonfiction wasn't something I was likely to be good at anyway. Interestingly, though, as soon as I stopped thinking of myself as a writer, the opportunity to become one came knocking at my door - or, more accurately, my inbox. A reader of my professional blog, Story Time Secrets, had recommended me to write a book about story time for Rowman & Littlefield's Practical Guide series.

While I would not say that writing a book is easy, I do think that the how-to genre - specifically when it comes to library programming - is well-suited to my capabilities. Though I had my fair share of challenges when I was trying to put my thoughts about story time into words, I was never at a loss for what to say. Writing nonfiction doesn't depend upon imagination or inspiration. The facts already exist; I just have to find them and help them make sense to the average reader. I submitted chapters over a period of about 15 months and Story Time Success: A Practical Guide for Librarians was published this summer. Also this summer I signed the contract for my second book, now in progress.

Though my writing "career" is not the glamorous life I imagined when I was a kid, I'm comfortable now identifying myself as an author, and even if I never publish again after these two books, I will be satisfied knowing that something I've written is out there in the world. Part of me still dreams of writing fiction, and perhaps when my kids are older, or grown, that dream will be realized. But until then, I'm content just to be a writer at all.


  1. Do you think blogging helped? Or is it completely different? I am just starting but I'm terribly self conscious about the writing part.

    1. Blogging was helpful to me because it got me in the habit of writing on a regular schedule, and it gave me the chance to organize my thoughts on many of the topics that ended up in the book. The blog is also what led the publisher to approach me - if I didn't have a blog, they probably would not have found me. That said, there is a big difference between writing a 500-word blog post and a 40-page chapter, and I think the only way I really learned to write a book-length project was by doing it.