I am really loving being able to interview writers on this Blog, ones that have a book to show for their hard work, be it self-published or a more traditional route. In one way or another we are all insecure and seeking validation. Right? And this comes from small successes along the way, being picked up by an agent or publisher, seeing our self published book up there on Amazon … and I guess in the end, whatever route you chose, someone somewhere loving your work. I think the best comment I had lately from an agent friend was ‘this story has stayed in my head since I read it.’ And given the very positive comments around that — he means in a good way! I hope! Not like the voices … only kidding!
I don’t know about all of you — but to write one of those stories that lives in the reader’s head long after it’s finished (again in a good way!) is what it’s really about. That in some, albeit small, way your words have changed the way someone thinks, rewired a part of their brain. I even remember my first fan mail about a short story in a collection — all the more valid because I didn’t know her. She looked me up and felt compelled to email me and then said how excited she was to get a reply! It’s just me!
And in a world where it becomes the norm to have rejections, we even pay for ‘criticisms’ (are we mad? I think we all know the answer to that!) and this drive to soldier on, and do a lot of waiting — if you don’t have patience, maybe best not seek a career as a published writer. First we get lots of plain old rejections, but for those that will never give up, they get better. I’ve even celebrated good rejections! Am I mad I ask again? And yes you still know the answer to that.
But onwards we march because we believe in what we have to say. That is the key, right? If you don’t believe in yourself who else will? And there is a big difference between being arrogant about your skills, i.e. refusing to accept the need to change things, than believing in yourself and your ability to change by being open to suggestions.
Someone once (some time ago) said to me that they didn’t want to take some advice about ‘showing’ where they simply reported facts to a reader: he was sad, he was angry (this ran throughout a first draft) because they didn’t want to change their style. Now this isn’t about style, this is about technique and comes down to the thing I say repeatedly — but is this the very best way to ‘tell’ this story? If we can’t see what makes writing more powerful, and are not opening our heart to suggestions (even if some we do dismiss — that’s okay too) then we will never get better and we will never achieve what we want to. Writing is all about growing. As I said once before, if you just want to write for the pure pleasure good for you. However, if someone pays me for advice (and of course I don’t expect them to accept it all!) then I assume they want to make it as good as possible for a reason, to learn to be a better writer, yes? So choosing to disregard fundamentals is a shame.
So why am I whittling on about this (again!) well because I feel like it! And because I think the In The Spotlight series is there to show you can do it. You. Really. Can. I have also invited a couple of ‘famous’ authors as well, not sure if they’ll bite (I mean this is little ol’ me) but famous or not every writer I have featured and will feature is there for the same reason: they didn’t give up. It’s in their successes we can see our own. I like that, I might have to say it again: it’s in their successes we can see our own. And again (rule of 3 and all that or is it the OCD — kidding!) it’s in their successes we can see our own
Everyone started somewhere.
I will leave you with the words of Barry Manilow (don’t groan!) that inspired me years ago and still does …
No one knows what you want more than you.
No one will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it.
So don’t give up your dreams. Ya hear.
I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t — so don’t you.
And in my words (yes little ol’ mad me …)
Celebrate yours and others’ successes.
When you think you can’t take it anymore … a small miracle is about to happen.
If you believe.
Ps I love cheese!