Today I took a peek at the 6th Annual College Park (Maryland) Book Festival held from 11-2 at the Community Center. I wandered up and down the rows of displays and marveled at all the people who live around here who are published authors. Many of the books were self-published by the writer and others were published commercially. Some of the authors are earning a living from writing but many others, for whom writing is something they love to do yet haven’t achieved the recognition to be able to earn enough from writing to support themselves, aren’t. I walked by the authors, each sitting at her or his own table, and felt a little guilty for not stopping to talk to each one and buy one of their books. Maybe I imagined their pleading, hopeful looks, but I don’t think so.
I got a glimpse of part of what it will take when I begin to publish my own work. It’s one thing (and enough of a thing at that) to put yourself on display writing essays or paragraphs or snippets in a publicly available blog. It’s quite another, I imagine, to pour yourself into a book, to spend hours upon hours putting it together, to get it published and then, in this word-inundated world of ours, to try to get people to buy and read it.
I chatted with one author who is earning a living from her writing. She asked me if I was a writer. After the briefest pause I answered, simply, yes. She smiled and said that I had given the right (or maybe write) answer. That moment of self-affirmation, of publicly confessing that I am a writer, helped me own what I want to become and who I already am. Maybe one of these days it will be me behind one of those tables at the book festival.