Coming to China to teach was the most bizarre choice I could have made. It was incongruous. Wrong. And I could feel that. Standing in front of a class–when I could barely drag myself to one in college–seemed . Don’t get me wrong, I did well in college. I got good grades and graduated magna cum laude. But that had nothing to do with going to class–which I didn’t do so well. I’m not talking about oversleeping every now and then or skipping out to do something cool like catch the shoe sale at Payless. I’m talking sleeping till 11 for a 10:00 class, skipping day after day to marathon SG1, or skipping class just to take a long shower. While my grades hovered around 95%, my presence in class hovered around 50%.
And then I became a teacher.
It was weird.
Still is, in fact. However. I get up in the morning–on time now (usually). I put on my least frayed pants over some heels. I try to remember to bush my hair before walking out the door. And I go to class. To teach. Because now, I am a professional. Or at least, I do well to pretend.
I don’t know if I can be a professional writer. OK, let me say that again, I don’t know if I can be a professional writer.
With my writing moving along, I’m finding myself in a similar position as I did two and a half years when I found myself, for the first time, headed to a classroom not for the purpose of sleeping in the back, but for the purpose of standing in the front, awake and in charge. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be a writer, and a professional one at that. I want to sell my stories, make money, and support myself with my fiction. And I’m all good with that. I’m just not sure about the rest. About the other things that go into the word professional. But as I consider the transition from “she-who-puts-some-shit-up-online” to the “professional-writer-who-sells-stories,” I wonder how I can get up in the morning and pretend to be that professional.
Because that’s the only way to do it: To get up in the morning and be a professional.
Well, it is the only way for me, anyway. For the more traditional-minded there’s the validation of unreadable contracts, deadlines, and editors’ red pens. But I only answer to myself, and if I want to be an author, there’s exactly one thing I have to do: just be one.
So as I move along with my first novel to see the light of day, I wonder what professional authordom looks like. Sometime around May or June, as my current time line goes, I will be attempting the plunge, and again I find myself unprepared.
There is so much to do.
I’ve got the writing bit down. I’ve got the recommendations for freelance editors, I know the places to get a good critique or beta. I won’t say I’m not concerned about the quality of my writing as an indie author. But at least I understand that. I understand writing and editing and I can do that.
But in the professional world, its not just ok for you to be good, you have to look good as well.
And that’s hard for me.
This is currently my writing’s face to the world:
Yeah. I know.
And this is my official face to the world on Smashwords:
Yeah. I said I know.
See, I’ve been working on the writing part of being a writer. And that being all well and good, I know that if I want to jump into the realm of professional authordom, I’ve got to do better at the whole looking good thing. This makes me panic. Just a little.
But this is the first step of many on the road to professional. Before I can sell books, I have to make books that are presentable. Before I can market books, I have to make books that are marketable. Before I call myself a real author I have to step up to the place and make my work look like a real author’s work. Before I… before I anything, I have to get this whole image-presentation-appearance-blah-blah-blah whatnot figured out.
And sometimes just thinking about it makes me want to remain forever as “she-who-puts-some-shit-up-online” and forget the whole professional writer business.
But then again, I never thought I’d get paid to stand in front of a class either.
Oh and here’s a nice picture of a flower to quell the rising panic any other blossoming writers may be feeling (sorry). Purple, because it’s relaxing.