"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you." - Maya Angelou
This is an interesting question that comes up a lot in this industry. I think the notion of the strange recluse sitting in their ivory tower, feeding the world their magic from a safe distance, is long dispelled. These days it's often the case that authors (and illustrators) make the majority of their earnings from book events - and thus, human interactions! So. Does that mean you need to be a spangly, flamboyant people-person who can make a hard sale? Don't put down your pens yet. In my experience of working with authors, you do have to be able to communicate but more importantly you need to be willing to. There's a reason publishing houses have sales, marketing and publicity departments. It's not all down to you (phew!) These people are true craftsmen (and women) of their trade. Through you they weave magic. They can dream up endless ideas for your festival tours, bookshop tours and writing course visits. Really you just need to turn up and be happy to talk about what being a writer is for you. Or happy to sit and read your story aloud: you've done it a hundred times already, and these new ears don't need to know that. For them, it's the first time.
I know many excellent writers who struggle with the thought of putting themselves in the public eye so often and under such intense scrutiny. Many feel that it's their inherent right as a writer to be allowed to stay underground. Quite often that used to be the case. When I sit down to write something, it's usually somewhere I least expect it, when an idea just pops into my head and the juices are flowing. Good thing I have my phone on me (thumbs beware). It's been a learning curve for me to discover that I do need to sit down and focus for a couple of hours (with a laptop/proper keyboard) if I want to write regularly. Perhaps people like me have the easier ride - our only adjustment is to finding the time we need to be productive, be it at home or in the midst of a bustling café (how cliché). For those writers who work best in the quiet of the wee hours or the empty house, it is daunting to suddenly throw yourself into the nearest café, let alone the public eye.
To those writers I salute you for your weekly word count. However times have changed; ivory towers have been abandoned and with excellent management; encouragement; and support from friends, publicists, and agents; these writers have bloomed on stage not a bit ruffled and captivated audiences in their hundreds. All seemingly effortlessly.
Long gone are the images of the bleary-eyed, frazzle-haired writer clutching the cosseted typewriter between bobbled cardigan sleeves. Just look at the Kindle - e-publishing has considerably opened the doors (or flung them wide open) in recent years. You only have to scan through the success stories to see that the world of publishing, and the concept of 'being a writer', is quickly and considerably evolving. Not only do agents, marketers and sales managers need to don several hats but writers have much to gain from adapting to the changes in publishing strategies.
So whether you are sitting up in your tower, pounding the 9-5 drum, waving the freelance flag or keeping one eye on the kids and one eye on the screen, it matters not. E-book or ink-smudged manuscript - you are writing, and you are a writer.