Anxiety And The Author
Every word I write for public consumption is born with a twin. That twin is my anxiety about that word being read publicly. I am not the only parent of public anxiety; I tend to believe all artists and creatives are. There is in the United States a directly proportional relationship where the money you get for your writing determines how much one is willing to define themselves as an author.
That can be fair and unfair. Let me show you.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) March 23, 2015
Harry Potter creator and author, J. K. Rowling wrote her tale of wizardry in cafes while her and her daughters survived on welfare. She states on Twitter that she was rejected “loads” of times. Her literary agent, Christopher Little, submitted “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to twelve publishers before being accepted by Bloomsbury. Was J. K. Rowling an author before or after the twelfth publisher accepted what would grow to be a wildly successful series?
I have read arguments that J. K. Rowling is only a writer until she is published. This is the semantic argument. While semantic, or purely based on the words used and how they are popularly defined, I tend to disagree in part. I am one of those people that believes once a woman has conceived the child, she is a mother. While the child is still in the mother’s womb, she is still a mother. Even though the book has not been polished by editors and graphic designers for commercial consumption, the writer of that book has still authored a book. I extend this thought even in the realm of digital publishing.
A journalist is an author to me. The newspaper or news provider reporter that writes stories, is authoring those stories for quick mass consumption. No matter the format, they are still authoring these writings. Does the reporter who has written a piece become an author before or after their first printing? What of the blogger? A blogger authors pieces for public consumption, mainly, through software developed and designed for such purposes, like WordPress. Just because a blogger, or a writer using blogging software, does not end their pieces with “-30-” does not take away from their authority.
A blogger is publishing their writings for public consumption. It is unfair to say that bloggers are not authors simply because they may not receive an advance check, a list of residuals they owe, or a royalty check. It is fair to say that blogging is not putting a physical(as opposed to digital) book on a brick and mortar bookstore shelf. However, many bloggers have compiled their writings into books and sold them through Amazon. There is no need to cause anxiety attacks accusing people of lacking authenticity in this sort of space.
US Blacks are not often taken as seriously as their Whyte counterparts. In a study, African-Americans college students are about as likely to get hired as whites who have dropped out of high school. In a study, Whyte hiring departments are more likely to hire a Whyte Male with a felony on their jacket, than a US Black Male with a Bachelor’s degree. This system of allocating resources to some versus others based on race extends itself even to the world of written words. As a US Black media analyst, it can be difficult to separate what makes my words weighty without comparing it to Whyte authors. Is a book published by Penguin more of an authority than a book published by Third World Press? Is the vernacular we hear used by US Blacks in predominantly US Black environs less respectable than the idioms of Southern Whytes romanticized in their writings?
Why is it necessary for Whyte Women authors to ask if it is alright to write Black Women characters? Are there not enough US Black Women giving voice to US Black Women characters in fiction so Whyte Men feel the need to? There are plenty of US Black Women authors, why do Whyte Women authors feel the need to add visibility via their own benefits? US Black Women, while presently capturing a sizable amount of attention to their works, are not respected in the space of authorship as they have deserved. US Black Women are often on a cross, or an intersection, of discrimination. US Black Women have to battle insecurities and anxieties associated with fighting to have their voices heard in sexist and racist interactions.
The fear of not being an authentic author when you have writings ready for public consumption is sheer elitist, gate-keeping drawl. It is unreasonable to suggest a person that is writing and has writings should not be considered a writer. The anxiety of not meeting some imaginary standard based solely on financial constraints or medium is unfounded. There is absolutely no reason one should dwell in this imposter syndrome imposed by those afraid of competition in a market space or social space that is becoming less and less controlled by the hierophants.
If I have writings, I authored those writings. I am an author regardless of how much money I owe a printing press or how skeet my advance checks are compared to the residuals owed.