Remember that initial sense of pride that you had when you wrote that first page of your book? Then it grew when you hit page 20? Then from there, you thought, "Ahhh, shux! I'm doing it now?" Then that feeling subsided as you wrote more and more pages, and then you grew increasingly anxious to get to the finish line while battling that bittersweet feeling of kissing your characters good-bye? Well, relax, my friend. They will be with you for a very, very long time.
The manuscript. The thing that gives you so much pride while stealing all of your energy. It ain't for the faint of hearts! This thing will go through so many hands it'll make a prostitute jealous!!! Okay, well, whether it gets seen by a handful of people or more, it should see more than just your set of eyes. You will scan and re-scan, read and reread, write and rewrite, and more. You'll always ask, "How can I say this or that better?" Just when you feel confident in yourself, the world and all else in between, you'll tamper with it so many times until you reach what you feel is perfection. Perfection. That will never happen. But I do know, you start thinking of your favorite author's writing style, and you may find yourself wondering just how he or she would say it. I know I do. I can't help but think of Stephen King and his breathtaking writing style. Then I stop reaching for the stars and settle for the ceiling. Why? Because your writing style has a ceiling effect until you polish your craft with each keystroke over time. That's more than okay. You are where you are right now because you must pay your dues. If any of us thought we could wake up and roll over and write with the mind and style of any other great writer, that'd be crazy. Besides, you must fall into and establish your own writing style, and then one day someone else may admire yours. But we all have to have our own voice, but as long as you know this, it's okay to drool over another writer's style. But all in all, this manuscript of mine was crafted by these little hands of mine and I reveled in that feeling for as long as it lasted. Remember when your teacher or professor asked for a 20-page paper and you gasped? Yeah, on one hand it's nothing compared to writing a book, but it's something when you have to add research on top of a topic you could care less about.
But I can't say it enough. After you write your first manuscript, I think you can pin that Author badge on your shirt pocket. Unpublished or not, but just because you had an idea and you wrote it out into a book, that makes you an author in my manuscript.