“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” (Barbara Kingsolver)
This is one quote I really need to read on a regular basis. Holly Lisle touches on this in her courses as well. I would often try to craft my stories around what people might want to read (or hear) instead of just writing the dang story from my head and from my heart. I think that notion ties into my perfectionist tendencies–if I can’t do it perfectly the first time, why even start?–and my fear of rejection.
The truth is, a lot of people connect with a story written from a place of honesty and vulnerability, somewhere deep within the author, rather than one written to sell 1,000,000 copies.
I connect most with the last sentence of this quote because it is so true. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of “fairy tales” in the world1. They’ve been told in thousands of different ways. But my stories are unique because they are mine. I am the only one who can tell these stories, my stories, and the only way I can do that is to write, write, write.
Who cares if everyone in the world flips their lid over it? Who cares if everyone in the world gets it? Who cares if it sells 1,000,000 copies? My story, the one only I can tell, will be told. That’s THE point. That’s THE reward. Obviously, paying the bills wouldn’t hurt either, but that’s not my primary objective.
Of course, there will be a lot of revision in there as well and probably a ton of words getting thrown out and possibly computericide2 if I feel the screen is just not showing me what I see in my mind. It’s nice to blame something other than myself sometimes, especially if it’s an inanimate object3.
In the end, I accomplished my goal–it was my story, I felt the need to tell it, and I did.
I don’t have to churn out pages of mind-blowing greatness every time I sit down. I just need to write. After I’ve written, I go back to discover if anything I’ve written is worthy of sharing with anyone else. If not, so what? By worthy I mean, after reading my story, the reader’s brain won’t seep out their ears into a useless pile of ooze.
Really, the thing I’ve made the hardest about writing my books, is the easiest. I know what I have to say. I know the questions (aka themes) burning in my brain and tugging at my heart. Now I just have to write.
1 I write in a few different genres. However, fairy tales are my current passion and that’s why I used them in the above post’s example.
2 I define “computericide” as the act of murdering one’s computer.
3 I don’t really blame my poor computer. I don’t blame anyone or anything. That’s because blame implies at some point I didn’t have the CHOICE to avoid whatever consequence I’m now seeking to push off on someone other than myself.
Blame is very simply placing the responsibility onto another person, place or thing. It’s useless when you seriously think about it because what happened, happened. Nothing you can do or say can change it. So why blame the result on someone or something else? What do you gain by blaming? The sense of peace (ignorant bliss) that comes from feeling you weren’t responsible for whatever happened?
Why do so many of us so willingly give up what little control (in the form of choices) we do have in this world?
FYI: Direct TV has a new commercial in which one of the executives suggests they all “blamestorm,” that they have a ‘blamestorming” session. I roll on the floor laughing and snorting every time I see or hear it. That’s some funny stuff.