It happened: as of last Tuesday, my debut solo novel, #FAMOUS, is out on shelves. It's officially official. I'm a real author now.
No, I'm DEFINITELY not above asking the staff to let me sign my books every time I spot them.
I don't know why I didn't let myself believe that earlier.
I've been working towards authordom for just about 10 years at this point, ticking off boxes and reaching finish lines along the way. Get an article accepted somewhere (read: anywhere): check. See your name in actual-physical-print: check. Find the agent: check. Sell the book: ticked that one off almost two years ago.
But it's only in the last week or so that I feel truly legitimate answering the perennial small-talk question, "what do you do?" with "I'm an author."
Don't make the same mistake as me.
Because yes, now there's proof of my vocation out in the world somewhere--in a lot of different somewheres, even--but I'm not any more of an author today than I was six weeks ago, before my book debuted, or three years ago, before it sold. Today I write stories, struggle to make the versions on the page look like the brilliant ideas I'm certain I have somewhere inside me, face painful rejections, and sometimes worry that I might just be pulling the wool over everyone's eyes with this whole writing gig (see: imposter syndrome).
You know, exactly like I've been doing this entire time.
There have always been goals I really wanted to reach, goals that felt all-important to confirming my sense of self, and now that I've reached some of them, they've been replaced with new goals. The sense of striving towards a better, more legitimate version of me didn't magically get washed away once my book made it into print. The goalposts just shifted. I have a feeling they'll keep doing that the rest of my natural-born life.
And while I have no idea whether telling the world--and more importantly, myself, with real confidence--that I was a writer earlier would have changed my path, I have a sneaking suspicion it might have made me more comfortable with having chosen it.
I'm beyond thrilled that a story has made it out of my head and into the hands of real-live readers. It's a major accomplishment.
I just wish I'd allowed myself to see the accomplishment that putting a story into words AT ALL is, sooner. Whether or not those words even see the light of day, that doesn't change the fact that you writing them is difficult, impressive, worth acknowledging.
That? The sitting down and building worlds of words every day? That's the thing that makes you a writer.
Today, I'm celebrating being published...
...and also my ten-year writer anniversary.
Both of those things feel pretty damn great.
I intend to celebrate both accomplishments--and everything else--with bubbles.