Today, my first-ever novel is officially out in the world. It’s real. It’s published. It’s in hardback. This has been my dream ever since I was very little. It always seemed clear to me that the best possible job was to be an author. Getting to make up stories for a living? Sign me up! I’ve always loved books as physical objects, and reading has been my favorite activity since I was in grade school. I always idolized my favorite authors, fantasizing about the awesome, creative lives they must lead.
Today I can really say it: I am an author. But it’s funny how even now, now that there is official proof, I still don’t quite believe it. It’s hard to even write that sentence without a reflexive little voice that goes: “Oh really? Who do you think you are?”
I never used to think I’d doubt myself as an author. I thought if I published a book I’d feel worthy, and that was that. I never expected that sneaky imposter feeling to arise. As I wrote about in my last post, throughout the creative process of this book, I constantly questioned whether I could actually do it. I sort of felt like I was pretending the whole time. When people would say, “You’re writing a book?” I’d brush it off. “Well, I’m attempting, anyway,” I’d say. I sort of always had this feeling that it didn’t count. I was just lucky, I’d tell myself. I was in the right place at the right time. Or, they think I can write a book but really I can’t.
But as we wrapped up the final rounds of editing, I felt something shifting. After reading and re-reading the manuscript so many times, being so close to it for so long, I finally realized something seemingly obvious: this is real. This is not a drill! This is a real book. It’s not pretend. It’s not a meaningless Word document. It’s meaningful to me, and so much work has gone into it, and it will soon exist in the wider world.
In that moment, I realized that even though I didn’t always believe in myself as an author, I did believe in the story of the book. I do believe in Ivy, the book’s protagonist, who in many ways is a version of my younger self. I believe in the emotions that Ivy feels, and I believe in her journey. She is very real to me. So for her sake, I must believe in this book. I must believe in myself.
I will always have moments of doubt– of thinking, can I really be an author?– but I will always strive to tell stories that are important to me, because writing and reading stories is still my absolute favorite thing to do. I will have countless more day jobs, and a million unglamorous moments, and unfinished drafts, and plenty of creative self-doubt, but I won’t deny what is now true: I’m an author. I think my little self, curled up alone reading all day, would be very pleased.