Ever have one of those why do I bother sort of days?
Do you ever look at your writer friends wonder what makes them get up in the morning, why do they have the ability to sit at the computer and write story after story? What feeds their motivation and how can I get some that to come my way?
And if you can’t/won’t write, then maybe you’re like me, and you read. You pick up a bestselling, award winning book and read about half of it. Hate it. Because it’s not yours. You don’t know if you can finish the novel you started—the unbestselling, nonaward winning one you’re (not) writing, or you were writing. Past tense writing.
And you’re gripped by self doubt. You wonder if you should be feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, engaging in a crusade to save an endangered species. But you don’t know how to do those things. You know how to write stories.
Remember how in English class your teacher would put a picture on wall and ask everyone to write about it? And even though all of the students saw the same picture, they each wrote a different story?
Stories and people are like that. You and I might sit in the exact same lecture hall, listen to the same professor, but chances are, your notes will look different than mine. We might attend the same party, witness the same crime, or fall in love with the same guy, but what we write in our diaries about the party, crime or guy will be different. Because we’re different. Unique. And we every situation we see is colored by the glasses of our experiences.
A conversation I had with a (heterosexual) friend after a yoga class demonstrates this perfectly. She once admitted that at yoga she often looks at the other women’s boobs. Huh. I thought that was fascinating because, I told her, that I often look at their butts. We decided that she looked at boobs because, being flat chested, she envied them, and I looked at butts because I wished mine was smaller.
What does this have to do with writing? It’s way too easy to compare our writing to another’s and see the plot holes, the clunky dialogue, or the awkward sentence. Often when we write, we’ll read over the first draft and mutter swear words. What we need to keep in mind is this—each stories is uniquely our own. No one else can tell your story like you can.
And there are some stories that will resonate with millions of people. And there are some stories that will touch the hearts of only a few. And that’s okay. As John Donne wrote, no man is an island. If your story makes even one person’s day a little brighter, you’ve done an amazing thing. Because that one cheered person carrying your book might be a little nicer, a little kinder, and a little more patient. And the world be a better place.
As writers, and as people, we can’t see where we’re going. It’s like running on a foggy day—one foot, or one sentence in front of the other. The only thing we can be sure of, if we stop running or writing, we’ll get nowhere pretty fast. (And our butts will get bigger.)
So, writer friends, in an effort to vanquish discouragement, here’s an opportunity to toot your own horn. Please post one line from one of your favorite review. (Preferably one not written by your mom.) Feel free to share a buy link.
SQUEE!! I absolutely LOVED this book! It was truly impossible to put down and I can’t wait to read the next one. I loved the characters, I loved the storyline, and I loved how unique this book was.