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Island Life, Word Birds & Process

Don’t get too excited, dear reader – my private life is no one’s business but mine…

The closet – if closet there be – is the one where my ‘author’ self has been hiding. Author as opposed to writer: I get called ‘author’ all the time & yet I struggle with the ‘A’ word, unsure at which point one is entitled to own it. Like most published writers I have an ‘author’ page on Facebook; the web address for this blog identifies me as one. This is usefully semantic – I’m talking about a definition far less tangible & considerably more emotional.

An author to me is a writer with several books under her belt. She has gravitas & a following; she gets invited to literary events & conferences. An author participates on panels & gets asked to endorse other writers’ books. She has a sense of herself as a step further along the writing road, with fans perhaps (& no overdraft…)

When Honno took me on, I was asked what kind of publicity events I would be prepared to take part in. I said anything other than physical public appearances. (Radio was fine – no one could see me on the radio.) What with one thing & another, since the launch of Ghostbird when I read in front of a gentle audience of family & friends, without me noticing, I’ve been creating a small physical presence. At my first book fair I read to another audience, potentially terrifying as a Q & A was part of the deal. Lovely people asked great questions & I found myself answering with a confidence I didn’t realise I possessed.

I’ve discovered I enjoy reading out loud from my book. Book fairs are fun & readers are fabulous people. I’m still a writer though – reading from the book I wrote…

At an International Women’s Day event hosted by Honno & WEN I took part in my first panel. Juliet Greenwood, my sister Honno author (three books, dear reader so yes – author!) in a generous attempt at calming my nerves said a certain mystique attaches itself to writers. She didn’t mean it in an ‘Oh my, aren’t we all amazing!’ kind of way – she was talking about the fact that non-writers (& would be) are quietly impressed by those of us who have published a book. As someone who spent most of her life in awe of authors, Juliet’s words had a ring of truth. Still not convinced, & frankly shaking in my boots, in front of my first relatively big audience I looked up & saw a sea of engaged smiles & genuine interest. I relaxed & it was easy. Afterwards, another first was being approached as an author. At that moment, I knew exactly what Juliet meant.

Honno 11
With Juliet Greenwood.

Yesterday I confirmed an invitation to speak at a conference in Wales, to a much larger audience. In my capacity as ‘Welsh Author’ I shall be speaking for 45 minutes & taking questions. I’m terrified (I’ll always be ‘terrified’ in theory) but I’m also okay because I’m coming out as an author & it’s not as scary as I once imagined it would be.

Writers who get published aren’t special – we’re just people who’ve written & published books. If what we write pleases, perhaps we ought to leave it to our readers to decide what to call us & be gracious when they tell us we’re authors.

(And that other thing? The one about authors being asked to endorse other authors’ books? I’ve done that too – see Su Bristow’s glorious book, Sealskin.)

Out & proud!