I like to go places where there are authors. As a life-long bookworm, these people are my version of idols. Heros, almost. Not only am I a book lover, the kind who thinks of books as miniature pieces of art that must be bought and kept for eternity, but I’m a writer. A writer who wonders if she will ever have what it takes to be an author.
You see, in my world, there are “authors” and there are “writers.” I write for companies, newspapers, magazines, blogs. But an author? They write to feed their own need for expression and then, at the end of their efforts, they have a novel.
An author writes a novel. The very word “novel” distinguishes itself from other forms of writing. By definition, according to Merriam-Webster, it means “original or striking especially in conception of style.”
I’m quite certain that I don’t have it in me to produce a novel. For instance, I attended a writing course by Alan Cumyn, an award-winning author of 10 novels. His early works were scrawled very early in the morning, before his family woke up and before he needed to set off to his full-time job. Now that is an incredible amount of dedication.
I’m quite certain that I will never possess the kind of drive that Cumyn described. But I still like to lurk around where I can rub shoulders with authors nonetheless. Perhaps I think I will be magically overcome with a desire that will have me setting my alarm for 4 a.m.?
More than sheer commitment though, I am also endlessly curious about where authors get their ideas from. Just recently, I went to see Joanne Harris speak. She’s the author of Chocolat, which was famously made into the Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
As I sat waiting in the movie theatre where she was going to read from her latest novel, Blueeyedboy, I looked around me. Were the other audience members fellow novelists? What brought them here, I wondered.
I enjoyed just sitting there, feeling the buzz in the air. Perhaps I think that some of their creativity will rub off on me? That special “author dust” will be sprinkled on me and I too will join their ranks.
Harris explained to the moderator that her novels begin when she starts to hear the characters in her head. She hears their voices.
That did it for me. It confirmed that I am simply not “author material.”
The only voices I hear when I sit down to some quiet writing time are those of a two-year old and a seven-year old. These are no characters in a soon-to-be novel. These are very real little people demanding attention, snacks or to sit on my lap.
I’m still not prepared to give up entirely on the idea of being an author. Sure, it’s a romantic ideal, but everyone’s allowed to harbor one, right?
Maybe if I start to hear voices one day, then I’ll start setting my alarm for 4 a.m.
But I don’t hear voices. Not yet, at least.
“I can listen the tea…sea…” silviadinatale @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
“Julie Harrison poses with an idol, novelist Joanne Harris” © John W. MacDonald