Yesterday, I was asked a question that I have never been directly asked before:
“Are you a published author?”
At first I stared at the woman blankly. She was serving me at the Post Office counter and the item I was sending was a potential magazine submission. Reading the address she had obviously put two and two together and worked out that I was a writer. The ‘published’ bit, however, was what threw me and it took me a few seconds to work out how to respond.
When I started out on this journey almost four years ago, I figured that to be a ‘published author’, you had to have a bestselling novel flying off the shelves. I have, thankfully, been disabused of this notion for almost all of those four years, but my first thought when asked that question yesterday was still – “erm..not sure – my novel is still not out there.” Then, I remembered something.
Proudly displayed on my office wall I have a certificate from The Writers Bureau which tells me that I am a ‘published writer’. This is only awarded once you have been published and remunerated for your work (subject to certain criteria) and so, the answer to the question at the top of this post was in actual fact:
“Yes. I am.”
It felt surreal to say those words and, for the duration of my walk home, I kept expecting the writing police to jump out from behind a bush and castigate me for claiming to be something that I wasn’t. Thankfully they didn’t.
What a feeling though. Actually being able to tell a complete stranger that ‘yes, I am a published author.’ Wow.
I don’t think that I will ever forget that moment.