My initial work with authors involved a second grade classroom that was a combination of eager writers and reluctant writers. As we got to know each other and has a predictable time for writing each day, those reluctant writers became less timid and those eager writers wanted to become authors.
The transformation from writer to author for anyone is difficult. The act of revealing something personally created by you to an audience is unnerving because you are revealing a part of who you are. This act can be some intimidating that the mere thought of presenting one’s written work to an audience is enough to scare writers into closets and under desks making sure that their secret identity is never revealed.
Coaxing writers out of hiding has become one of my favorite parts of being a publisher. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not easy work, as writers are particularly skittish, but it is rewarding work. To be able to walk through the publishing process and walk with someone as they become the new identity of author is magical.
Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent interview about belief stories said, “Trust your curiosity. Curiosity is another breadcrumb on the amazing trail that will make your life yours and not anybody else’s.” Writing is hard work, but even harder is the strength and courage to imagine oneself as an author. The imagining a new life and a new identity can be the hardest part of the writing process for student writers and for adult writers.
In my classroom, I tried to create authentic experiences for parents and administrators to recognize the magical metamorphosis that students had undergone by transforming my classroom into a theater or a coffeehouse for a poetry jam or a gallery with booths displaying different authors work. This is a little more difficult to create in the world of adults. This becomes book signings, speaking events, and book club presentations, and for a lot of budding writers the reality of being around other adults who might not like their work is just too much.
The publishing process then becomes a two-tiered process. One in which a manuscript becomes a book and one in which a writer becomes an author.