Question: should the world recognize aspiring authors?
For the sake of conversation, I say no. Take for example if someone states they’re an aspiring singer, the obvious question would be when will their song be made public? If the aspiring singer doesn’t know or they’re not sure only floating out the indefinite date of ‘someday’, then in the world’s eyes, this person is not ‘legitimate’ in their eyes. This future musical artist has to produce a song in the present in order for us to recognize their published work. Personally, twenty years ago, I talked about publishing a book but I didn’t produce one at that time. I guess I was an aspiring author myself. I had friends who advised me on writing a book for public consumption, but in 1999 I had nothing to speak of outside of one column in community newspapers. I didn’t fool myself into believing I was an author of a book because I wasn’t published.
The words ‘aspiring author’ trigger many a scribe today. There is on one hand the accomplished writer who remembers the days before their manuscripts turned into actual printed works. Perhaps they don’t want to refer to these future authors because of the experience of waiting for their literary dreams to come true after days and nights behind a desk, typing who knows what for agents, publishers and eventually a reading audience. If anyone told me twenty years ago the truth that I’m not a recognized author even though I planned to publish a book, I would have accepted it. It also would have made me work harder to see that dream come true. In modern times, authors will warn you in strong language on social media “I hate the term aspiring author! What are you aspiring to? Are there aspiring teachers or aspiring customer service reps? Why the hell should one call themselves an aspiring author for? Dumb….” Now although the above quote was paraphrased, it has been known to use the words aspiring author means certain vitriol to whoever says it.
In the example I offered above, a person who aspires to sing is an aspiring singer. Anyone who wants to enter the customer service field is an aspiring customer service representative. Let’s look at the root word Aspire to see if thereâs any harm in using the term aspiring:
: desiring and working to achieve a particular goal : having aspirations to attain a specified profession, position, etc. an aspiring actor [=a person who aspires to be and is trying to become an actor] an aspiring novelist (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
This harmless adjective only tells the truth. This world will not recognize an aspiring author but the person who aspires to become one is working toward that goal. It is important to understand that this world will not recognize the aspiring author’s work until they are a published author. Until that moment happens, all of the news and posts about progress wonât matter if the work isnât made reality.
What upsets other literary artists with this term is that the word aspiring conflates with the word unknown. Until the publication of my first book, all I could do was perform in poetry readings across the city. I didn’t have a published book to my name. To the audience who heard my words and read my poems, I was an unknown author. Established and non-established authors remember the struggle in achieving the accolades or acclaim they’ve worked hard to achieve and it hurts. It’s a pain no one wants a future author to experience for fear they possibly will be discouraged and give up on their dream. For reasons of their own, they take offense of the term aspiring even if it is the truth for future authors.
Hopefully, aspiring authors understand this piece does not come from an ‘elite’ point of view but a realistic look at how readers and the world in general view them in the present. Look at the aspiring singer example above. Singing a few bars on social media doesn’t mean you’re an established singer, it means you are working towards scoring that first recorded song or album. Aspiring (and other) authors should be offended if they’re called by that name. That individual author is taking steps from moving to the aspiring to published stage. If the drive is there, we the reading audience will see their literary works in a timely manner. For in the present, the reality is that they are not recognized by the world yet. As these authors continue in pursuit of their goal, they will be.
Charles L. Chatmon