So I have talked about my books before. You know, the ones I’m writing? Well here’s the honest to God truth… I don’t expect to see Dragon Prophecy, my first book, in print (even via self publishing) until August 2015. I know, it’s sad, but the whole reason I started this blog wasn’t to constantly brag about my accomplishments. The blog’s name is A Writer’s Epic, not “Books and Things by M.K.Harlan”. In literature an epic is traditionally thought of as a long poem, i.e. The Odyssey, The Iliad. But the genre of epic can also include The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, even Doctor Who. An epic is a story, this is my story from beginner, which I’m told I should never portray myself as, to published author.
Here’s the thing; people say that you shouldn’t portray yourself as a beginner because really how much faith can you put in someone who doesn’t actually know what they’re doing? But when people read a story they expect to see character growth. All good stories are based on characters. People want to relate, they want to see change, because they themselves don’t start out as an expert, no one does. Even George R. R. Martin was once a beginner. Ask him! I bet he’ll tell you he started out with a few crappy works in elementary school before writing a decent poem or story that his teachers loved. Maybe he was a natural, but he wasn’t an expert, no way. No matter how good you are there is always room to polish. The other night I was reading a book by Stephen R, Lawhead and I ran across a sentence that was just… GAH! I went over it maybe thirty times, thinking of how I would have done it different. It was just awkward… but Lawhead is still a great author, that’s the only sentence I’ve had any issues with. So why is it that you’re allowed to show your characters as beginners, but never yourself?
People are attracted to writers who are confident in themselves, and give off an air of experience. Or so I’ve been told. some people seem to take it as law that if you portray yourself as a beginning writer you’re just hurting your book sales, and your “street cred”. Why is it that you can’t be confident in your “beginner status”? Personally I’m very confident in that status. Do you know why? Because there are a lot of people out there, and you may be one of them, that haven’t done what I’ve done, they haven’t taken that first step, because they are afraid of that beginner status. They are afraid of failure.
It’s okay to be afraid. It’s natural, most people are insecure of their work, they constantly ask, “What if people don’t like it?” “What if someone reads one story and never reads any of my work again?” “What if I’m delusional and this really sucks?” and do you know what all of these have in common? They’re all “what if” questions. Let me say that you’ll never know the answer until you try, until you become a beginner.
In conclusion, ignore the people who tell you to keep your beginner status quiet. People are interested in people who are changing and growing, they prove it when they read the stories we write, the ones with good character arcs. Yes, it’s good to give off confidence and pride, it’s good to let people know that you know what you’re talking about. But it’s okay to admit that you’re a beginner, because people want to see you change and grow, it makes you real to them. They want to think, to know, that you are just like them. So shout it to the rooftops, I’M A BEGINNER!!!! and be proud of yourself for being a beginner, because you’ve started on the right path, you’re on the way to being great. Once you’ve started don’t quit. Show people that you can do it. Show them who you are, and show them who you will become.