imageIt always begins the same way…a blank page, a blinking cursor and my fingers hovering over a gray keyboard. Since I began this journey to be a published author (was it only a little more than three months ago?), I try to write something every day. Some days its nothing more than a Facebook post, but that counts, right? At least, on those dry days I tell myself it does.

As I have mentioned in previous entries, writing is work and a labor of love. It’s a continual process of self-expression and self-improvement with the elusive goal of perfectionism. Will I ever be fully satisfied with the final, written product? It’s uncertain.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the many questions I’m asked when I say I’ve written a yet unpublished book. Some have easy answers:

When did you find the time? Late at night, when everyone is sleeping and on the weekends at my kid’s swim meets.
What kind of book is it? A paranormal romance.
There is such a thing as paranormal romance? Yes, there is. It’s quite a popular genre. The Twilight series is a famous example.

Others are not so easy. Their answers surprised me and may surprise you, too. Take this one:

You have the first couple of chapters of your books published on your website — what if someone steals your ideas? Well, I have been told by many in the publishing industry that the moment you put pen to paper, you are protected under United States copyright laws. This means there is no need to worry about copyrighting a book before it has been published. In fact, I was specifically warned NOT to query agents with this question, as it will only reveal my inexperience and lack of professionalism.

But aren’t you worried about someone taking your idea and publishing their own book? Nah..not really. I mean I’m no copyright attorney. But we are in the age of information and social media. Everywhere you look there are good ideas for the taking. The trick of the artist is to select an idea and make it uniquely their own. This is a skill and talent that no one else can copy.

Writers routinely draw from the world around them — nature, art, music, the news media — and then put their own spin on an idea to say something new. The saying, “It’s all been done before,” is true. It has all been done before. Every new idea has its basis in the past. But there is always room for the writer to build off a previous idea and place it in a new light. My own work is inspired by other authors I have read and enjoyed.

No, I do not live in fear of someone stealing my ideas. Rather, I welcome it. It may seem contrary, but sharing my ideas with the world has stimulated my creativity. Reader comments have provided me with valuable insights that I have used to improve my manuscripts. When I give my ideas away, I am forced to dig deeper and peer a little harder at my own writing. It’s how I make my work better.

So bring on those blank pages and blinking cursors! My fingers are hovering, itching to capture the next great idea, and send it out to the digital world, hoping it comes back around with a little more shape, a bit more polish and a whole lot of sparkle.

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