Monday, January 30, 2012

What is keeping you?

I've met a lot of people along the writer's path who say they want to write but haven't. It seems I've met more of them since I got published.

Perhaps you're one of them. Maybe the urge to write that story or poetry or novel is still tickling the back of your brain, but you've never done it. Never tried putting words to paper (or screen, as the case may be). So let me ask you something:

What are you afraid of?

Okay, there I said it. Yep, good old fashioned fear has kept many a dreamer from achieving their dreams. Fear of trying, fear of failure, even fear of succeeding.

Why would I be afraid of success?

Because when you do write that story, that means you might get the urge to get it published. Face it, many people play music for the enjoyment of it without ever having to record it or get a contract with Epic Records. I love playing guitar and music has aways been an important part of my life but if I never sign a contract with Sony Records, I'm fine with that. I don't need a recording contract or to be on Idol to increase my joy and love of music.

Writing, though, that's different. Writers write for the enjoyment of it, true; but deep down we want to share it with the world. Maybe you work and get that story written and then it sits in your desk drawer and then what? No, you want to share it, get it read by others and that means you got submit it to someone. And that could be the cause of your underlying fear of starting it.
What if they hate it?

It happens. Has happened to me. Can't tell you how many rejection letters I've received, how many critiques I've gotten that surprised me because I thought I'd written the best prose since War and Peace only to find that, much to my chagrin, it wasn't. It makes you want to scream, argue, throw things and all of that, but guess what? It won't kill you. And the sun will rise tomorrow.

Every critical opinion I've received, every rejection letter, even every critique from my editor and publisher, has made me a better writer. No, I don't like it, and I wish I didn't have to hear it, but being a writer requires you have a thick skin and the willingness to face harsh reality. That story that I wrote that is setting in a drawer for three months that I thought was so great now reads stilted, the pacing horrible, and I can drive a truck through the plot holes.

Still, my world didn't end. My wife still loves me and the kids still think their dad is terrific (at least I hope they do). I simply apply buttocks to chair and start to fix it.

Remember, NO ONE GETS IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. If you write something, if no one ever reads it, if you never make a dime off of it, but it says what you wanted to say, then you are a writer.

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