BECOMING AN AUTHOR IN THE AGE OF A.I.
Updated: Sep 4
I finally took the plunge and became a published author.
I've dreamed of being a writer my whole life. My first "novel" was a bunch of scribbles. I hadn't learned my letters yet, so I wrote "my story" in one of those small colorful ring bound flip notebooks you can fit in your back pocket. I proudly took my notebook filled with circles, loops and dots to my mother. She looked at my circles, loops and dots and smiled. I beamed.
My first review. I was hooked.
But I was scared.
Writing, while a constant passion, has always frightened me. While I wasn't brought up with Nuns rapping my knuckles with a ruler, the fear of making a mistake ran deep. I didn't know the rules of grammar. Diagram a sentence? Recognize a dangling modifier? Understand pronoun antecedents? You may as well have spoken Greek to me.
Nowhere did my lack of writing skills become clearer to me than when I left my inner-city school for the halls of higher education. While my high school teachers rewarded me for stringing along cohesive thoughts with a discernible beginning, middle and end; my collegiate professors were less forgiving of my many structural errors.
One of my history professors even proposed helping me. After hours, of course. In his office, of course. Alone with him, of course.
Of course, my Spidey senses went on full alert.
"No thanks," I muttered.
It was only after I took a class in journalism that I learned the art of crafting words for impact.
It took many more years of working as a professional in various fields before I became comfortable with my own abilities. I've spent several decades writing press releases, long and short-form commercials, brochures, marketing materials, and tons of business copy. Nothing like trial by fire.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
I recently got to a point in my life where I felt ready to write my debut novel.
But first, I needed to understand the formula for writing a book; mystery and crime novels in particular. So, I attended workshops and webinars, and read a lot of books on 'how to write a book' from famous and not so famous authors.
Armed with all this invaluable advice, I began typing away.
And I toiled away over every single word.
Do I use the word "and" or do I break this sentence into two? Do I use the word "said" or do I throw in an action tag?
What words can I replace those useless adverbs and adjectives with that Stephen King rails against? And, Stephen, why can't I use words like should, would, and could?
TIMING IS NOT MY STRONG SUIT
As I tapped away at my keyboard, this 'thing' called Artificial Intelligence hit the news in a big way. Lead story in fact. No doubt fueled by journalists feeling fearful A.I. could soon eliminate their livelihoods. They echoed countless stories of how accountants, customer service agents, researchers, retail workers, and a multitude of other industry professionals may also see their positions eliminated by this latest tech revolution. Even the software programmers who brought us the magic of A.I. are at risk of having their profession eliminated. How's that for irony?
Like many workers in these industries, I too feel the uncertainty and fear brought on by the unleashing of these faceless artificial minds.
"OMG, A.I. is going to make me obsolete with its perfect story composition, style and grammar structure, and I just got started! I'm doomed before I even publish!"
I let this fear consume me for about two days. Then I set it aside. Like human painters who choose their colors and subjects carefully, I think human writers who craft their own stories outside of the algorithmic world will always be in vogue.
Is it scary to think one has to compete with a fiberglass entity that can spit out near perfection in minutes? You betchya.
But I won't let fear prevent me from pursuing my passion, as I have faith in you, dear reader. Faith that you want to read stories written from the heart. A real heart. Not a heartless algorithm that steals words and experiences from humans.
Am I being unrealistic? Perhaps.
After all, I'm only human.
Join me on my journey as a new author!
I'm now in the final stages of publishing my first novel, Secrets from Pond Island. Please join me on my journey as a new author, receive release updates, and read what it's like in the writing room. I'll never sell or provide your information to anyone else.
(Hands typing by Dreamstime; Robot image by kjpargeter on Freepik)