One of my girlfriends just confessed something to me that surprised the hell out of me. She’s afraid of publishing her work in progress traditionally or even trying to because of the backlash she believes she’d get from the romance writing community.
What. The. Hell.
Seriously, my friends, I didn’t expect to hear that from anyone (1) who has her personal self-confidence and her writing experience, and (2) who’d think so about the writing community in general much less the romance writers that I’ve seen bend over backwards to help out other beginners. She’s brilliant and talented, my friends, with a capital B and a capital T. I hope I can grow up some day to be half as cool as she is. But her fear does prove the point that all of us working at this writing gig, published or not, have to live with very real fear, have to tolerate and respond to very real criticism and derision over their choices (ALL of them), and have to manage to keep it together at the same time while making their publishing dream a go.
So I’m here to help. Here’s the pep talk I gave her. Listen up.
What you’re doing is worthwhile and you’re allowed to think so.
So many people these days struggle with this concept of self worth and allow others to tell them that they’re lacking. This is especially true for people following that dream of being a published author. You, my friend, have value in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Recognize this and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You have skill, drive, and persistence. Each one takes honing and practice, the same as anything else in this world. Understand this value and know that you can use it to do some real good in this world. People need to see you writing or pausing. People need see you struggling or shining. People need to see you working at it. Anyone who doesn’t see you and acknowledge you just for that alone isn’t worth knowing. Surround yourself with people who support you just for being you.
Question to ask yourself: “What’s the absolute worst thing that can happen?” Figured it out? Great. Write that down in a journal and put a reminder in your calendar to go back in two months, eight months, and a year and look at that prediction. Each time you go back, write down what really has happened.
You can acknowledge the efforts of others, but you only need to listen to yourself.
There are plenty of people who have experiences that are close to or mimic yours in the writing world and plenty others with something completely different going on in their lives. You need to worry less about what they’re doing and saying and more about what you’re doing and discovering. I’m sure someone’s going to get all butthurt that you didn’t do what they said or did to the letter. I’m not saying you should ignore them at all. Yes, you should listen to what they have to say. Yes, you should even explore what they did and think about it yourself. But if all you do is listen to everyone else, you’re crippling yourself.
You need to get out there and discover things on your own without thinking about what anyone else might or might not have done. You need to get all messy and dirty with words, thick in the middle of some god-awful story that tears out of your soul and smashes against the page like a kid discovering blueberries for the first time. And you may even need to throw those blueberries away and then do it all over again. But if you keep trying to follow along with someone else’s rules and someone else’s path and someone else’s plan for your work, you’re not growing. All you’re doing is limiting your ability to discover your voice, your path, and your needs.
Question to ask yourself: “What makes me so excited about writing that I can’t wait to do it?” Got that answer yet? Great. Go do that. Don’t wait to find out what someone else did.
You’re not alone.
Here’s my final bit of advice on the matter: Sometimes in order to make that dream a reality, all you really need is someone to believe in you no matter what, to tell you that they understand, and to send you on your merry way to discover things on your own in whatever time it takes for you to do so.
I believe in you. I know just what you’re going through because I’m going through it too. Let me know if you need help and I’ll see you when we get there, ok?
There’s no such thing as ‘one, true way’; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good — they’re the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren’t willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race. ~ Diana Tregarde, Burning Water