So last week I got an e-mail from one of the women in my book club. A few months ago I had announced I was having a short story published. This woman, I'll call her Xena, has apparently always wanted to write a book and so finally worked up the nerve to ask for my advice. (I say worked up the nerve because it did take her a few months to contact me, after all. And it's a big leap of faith to tell people you want to be a writer.) We're meeting for drinks and dinner tomorrow night. On one level I feel like I'm the worst person she could ask--I'm a publishing-world rookie, what do I know?--but on another I feel like I've got some good advice to give a newbie. I'm thinking of swinging by the bookstore before we meet so I can pick up a copy of Stephen King's "On Writing" to give to her. In my mind I can picture us as writing buddies, like we'll meet once a week at out-of-the-way coffee shops to write and inspire one another. That would be very cool.
Which brings me to my next musing. To someone like Xena, I'm a writer. I've written three books, I'm having a story published, my current goal is to submit a story a month to various places, I'd like to have another book written by November. In my mind, though, I don't feel like a "real" writer. How do I know this? I'm trying to decide if I should apply to have a reading during World Fantasy Con in November--maybe the story that will be published, maybe something else--and the rookie in me says that I'm not qualified yet. I don't have enough of a resume to give a reading. Why would an agent want to hear my words? I'm nobody. But then I tell myself that everyone starts somewhere, that an agent would come hear what I've written because I'm a nobody and he's looking for new talent, that the only way to be a "real" writer is to act like one. I keep oscillating between the two. Maybe after dinner with Xena I'll be so jazzed that I'll apply for a reading slot before I have time to question myself. The margaritas will grease the way, probably.