Over the past year, my mother has gotten me a couple of poetry books. One was called Fragility, by Sinead Tyrone, and the other was Tailgating at the Gates of Hell, by Justin Karcher. They have VERY different styles, but I loved both books, and I loved that they came from my mother, who has been my biggest fan since day one. It was for her I wrote my first story, and it was her praise that made me write the sequel.
Recently, I sent my chapbook into the world to be examined by both friends and strangers. My mother read it first, not even because I meant her to, but because she was the only person who asked daily about my progress. I was reading the books she gave me and having moments of panic, because both had such beautiful lines that made me feel inferior as an author, and it made me think of the time we were in a store and I saw a pin that said “future author.” I asked mom if I could get it, and she looked at me, puzzled. “You’re already an author.” I mean, technically I was. I had written two plays that had been performed. I’d had a couple of poems published. None of this made me feel like an “author,” though. She bought me the pin anyway, and it is stuck to the corkboard in my kitchen as a constant reminder that the bar is always rising.
The other night I went to a poetry reading. This was a big step for my anxiety. It was an even bigger step than expected, actually, because we all sat in a circle and shared our work. I couldn’t just hide in the back. Some people read from their already published books. One guy was brand-new to poetry. Some people read something they had written that day. I read one of my favorites and one of my mom’s favorites. It was nerve wracking but wonderful, and I wish my anxiety had held off a little longer and let me mingle afterwards. Anyway, about halfway through the evening I realized that one of the women sitting in the circle was Sinead Tyrone. This is interesting, because I put great stock in the universe sending me signs. I’ve already met Justin Karcher-we were seated next to each other at a cast party many years ago, before his book-so I’m surprised by this new development wherein the other author I recently read is now a player in my world. Or will be, should I get the guts to go back to that poetry group and tell her I liked her book.
I came home and saw my “future author” pin. I would consider myself to be such now, I suppose. I’ve had several poems and a short story published. But I haven’t seen anything in print yet, and that’s where I am setting my bar. Actual ink on paper is my goal, and will make me feel like a real author. Or will it? When Sinead and Justin put their words into print, did they suddenly feel like authors? Did they feel like one before their first book? Or do they feel like there’s work still to be done to attain that title? I don’t know that seeing my book come to fruition would really make me feel like an “author.” Or maybe I just have some terrible imposter syndrome.
You know who believes I’m an author, though? The woman who buys me poetry books. The lady that told me I deserved the Newberry when I was in 3rd grade. The biggest fan I will ever have, even when she doesn’t understand what the hell I’m writing about. My Momma.