Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unsung Authors

I just finished reading the young adult book series by Andrew Clements that starts with "Things Not Seen." Normally Andrew focuses more on middle grade readers with hits like "Frindle" and "No Talking." He's been writing children's books for years, after teaching for 7 years, and has garnered many awards on both a national and state level.

But he's not reached the ranks of the "mega-authors" we hear so much about. JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer in their own rights have achieved the rare distinction of "Super Authordom." Sometimes I wonder what that elevation does to the authors who don't achieve that magnitude of limelight. Are they any less useful to our kids? Any less creative or talented? Are you only a worthy author if your books are immediately optioned as a movie and make the NY Times Bestseller list?

With so much attention focused on the megastars, it is hard not to secretly wish to attain that same level, but when we do that, I think we start to lose focus on why we started writing in the first place. Was your own spot on Oprah's couch the driving force to start typing away? Were you posting pictures of a Mediterranean mansion you would make a downpayment on when you received your first royalty check? Did you write a story specifically for Brad Pitt to star in? I find that hard to believe.

My guess is that it was kids. Children, maybe yours, maybe some at the local school, maybe those you don't even know. You wanted to make a difference in the life of a child, right? Inspire, teach, entertain, amuse, educate? Right? So who can put the value on lifting the life of a child and getting him/her to read?

The publishing industry CAN'T, that's for sure. Only you can. Only you can know in your heart what it means for your stories/books/poems to make a difference, to really count. Only you can know what success means. And only you can define it for you.

If I could only become half of the author and have half of the influence of Andrew Clements, then I would be happy. He's a terrific author and kids love him/his books. What a success he is.

Just try not to forget that when you watch the latest mega-author interviewed on the Today show! ;o)


Paul West said...

A great posting, Sarah. It's good for us to consider just why we began writing in the first place, especially when we get discouraged with negative critiques, shot-down query letters and submissions, etc. Not to mention, do I really have time to do all this writing?

Personally, I began writing to express my frustration as a teen. I wasn't the most popular kid in school, more probably close to one of the least popular. I got teased a lot and did my fair share of teasing to others who did not deserve that teasing. That's probably my main motivation to show how the teased ones feel and react to teasing. I was fortunate that I did not react negatively to the teasing, but many kids do, and they get into trouble. I my main motive is to help those kids who live with ridicule learn to cope. I did.

Kiirsi said...

Thank you, Sarah! And by the way, I feel horrible--I totally forgot I was supposed to post yesterday!! I just got hit this weekend with some rather unsettling news (about my husband's job). It pretty much drove everything else out of my mind. Anyway, so sorry, and I will post next Monday to make up for it. :)