I often feel like an impostor because I didn’t start this crazy ride as an author until after the age of sixty. Everything I know about writing, I’ve learned on the fly, making many mistakes along the way.
In my music career, I felt confident. I had practiced, trained, studied, and practiced some more. I had earned a degree and many certifications declaring me competent in that field, and I had a successful, satisfying career. Of course, I made many mistakes through the years, but I had the confidence to learn from them and move on.
Where writing is concerned, I compare my journey to that of a child actor who is obliged to grow up in front of the camera, immature behavior, acne, bad decisions and all. Lindsay Lohan, Macauley Culkin and Britney Spears and others made poor choices as youngsters do, but unlike most youngsters, they made them publicly. Even if they’ve learned from their blunders and grown into responsible citizens, they are forever identified by their youthful mistakes.
I want to become a great writer, creating works of literature that resonate with readers through the ages. When I think about some of my favorite authors: Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, C.S. Lewis, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, LaVyrle Spencer and others, I aspire to write as well as they do. I hope, with practice, to grow and improve. In the meantime, my publisher expects me to sell books. So, I must promote myself, establish my brand, and build a public platform. Unfortunately, it means I must make my mistakes publicly, risking humiliation.
One of my novels, Unrevealed, drew the attention of an online troll. Chances are, this person neither purchased nor even read the book, but posted a negative review on Amazon just for fun. Even though all the other reviews are positive, this one nasty assessment decreases the overall rating for Unrevealed. After putting so much hard work into writing a book, it’s hard not to take the one negative opinion personally. Unfortunately, it’s a risk authors take when publicizing their work.
Because I understand how challenging it is to write and publish books and to market them, I am committed to reviewing the books I read. If I don’t enjoy them, I keep my opinion to myself. If I am heartened by what I read, I post an honest assessment on Amazon and spread the word among my acquaintances.
Helping other authors become successful doesn’t threaten my success. Disparaging authors who, like me, are developing their craft, learning from their mistakes, and struggling to sell their books serves no decent purpose and only diminishes me. I will continue to make mistakes because I’m still learning. But when it comes to pointing out the mistakes of other authors, I prefer to keep my mouth shut.
Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Diary in the Attic, Unrevealed and The Dark Room. Coming soon from High Tide Publications: I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com