Tag Archives: writing process

What Makes an Author?

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Upon discovering this blog and seeing me refer to myself as an author, someone asked me what works I have published.  I answered the question honestly, explaining that I haven’t had anything published, at least not in the signing a book deal/getting distribution/products in popular book stores sense…not yet.   After typing my response, I suddenly began to question my use of the term author –  Am I an author?  Can I call myself an author if I haven’t been published?  What makes an author?

According to Wikipedia, an author is broadly defined as “the person who originates or gives existence to anything” and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created.  Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.

Looking back to last summer when I wrote my first (30,000+ words) children’s chapter book, Adios, Cusco, I remember how much trouble I had even calling myself a writer.  “Okay,” I said to myself, “I wrote a book, but I’m not a writer… am I?”  Well, yes, of course, silly.  You wrote a book – that certainly counts.  But it took me some time before I began to comfortably wear that title.

Skip forward to two weeks ago when I started this blog.  I registered “A Children’s Poem a Day” and gave myself the user name authorjaymie.  To be honest, I didn’t think twice about it.  Author Jaymie.  Author Jaymie Gerard.  Not only did I want to wear that title, it felt like a good fit – author felt just right.  Why woudln’t I use the word? So there was really no reason to doubt it.  If it ain’t broke… well, you know the rest.

We label ourselves based on what we do, what we believe in, and how we see ourselves.  When we begin a new task and are in that novice stage, we can sometimes diminish the ways that we are already walking our talk.  Sometimes our notions of what we are supposed to look like or what qualifications we are supposed to have can cloud our vision of ourselves.

The bottom line is, if you create things, especially written things, whether or not a publishing company knows you exist, if you feel you are an author, then honey, you are one.  At least, you are in my book!

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Finding Inspiration – What I Did When it Just Wasn’t There

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So the first few days of this challenge were easy.  Everything around me was inspiring poems – a mouthful of peanut butter, a lonely willow tree on the block around the corner, an orphanage full of incredible kids in Zimbabwe.  Children’s poems seemed to be pouring out of me, and it felt wonderful.

Until Day 7 arrived.

I sat down at my computer and opened a blank document in Word.  I typed a title and wrote a line or two.  No, no, no, I thought, this isn’t it.  I erased everything and looked around the room.  Nothing seemed interesting enough to write about.  I looked out my window.  I started another poem, jotting down a few lines, but it too was falling short.  I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to write a poem in time, that inspiration simply would not come to me that day, that I would fail my challenge not even one-fifth of the way through.  I knew I had to do something, but I wasn’t quite sure what.

So I got up and closed my laptop.  I walked away.  The stress was sucking out all of my creativity.  I figured there was no point in forcing it.  Not with something like this.  I told myself, Jaymie, it will come to you.  Give yourself some space and your brain will think of something.  And eventually (luckily, before midnight) it did.

What was the lesson in this for me?  Trust and commitment.

If you want to write, if you have it in you, you’ll write.  You have to trust that… and at the same time,  you have to be committed enough to come back, even when you’re afraid of the outcome.

Today when I started and erased several drafts, I was a lot easier with myself.  I just finished my ninth children’s poem.  I may not produce my best work on days like these, but I’m still producing something.  And that’s what this challenge is really about.

Ok, It’s a Monday, and I’m (maybe) Ready to Begin

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Like the title says, it’s Monday.  What better day of the week to start something new than a Monday, right?  So I guess it’s time to start writing!

I’m feeling nervous about this – besides the fact that I don’t actually consider myself a poet, committing to 50 days seems pretty big right now. I can’t help but wonder, will I have the discipline to stick to this?  If I make it until my son’s birth, will I have enough time (and desire) to keep it up?  What’s it like to write poetry when you haven’t slept in days?  What happens if I just can’t think of anything to write about?  What if my poems stink?

Truthfully, some of them probably will stink.

But luckily, my goal isn’t to write perfect children’s poems right now, but just to write children’s poems, period.  If some of them happen to be great enough to include in a collection, then fabulous.  If not, well then, no harm – I’ll just pack them up into a box and pretend they were never written.

OUCH! I just got a kick in the ribs.  I guess that’s Sam’s way of saying, “Don’t worry Mom, just start writing!”

What a wise son I have.