Having the Courage to Write
By Sara York
Years ago, publishing was a narrow path. Books had to fit a certain paradigm to be published. Good books were rejected because they didn’t match the house profile. Publishers knew what their readers wanted and wouldn’t stretch beyond those constraints. This attitude is what allowed Harlequin to flourish. It’s what set apart a Harper Collins book from a Bantam novel. It’s the way readers knew what to expect from an Avon imprint.
For the author that didn’t fit the house style, it meant rejection letters that filled filing cabinets and manuscripts stacked under the bed gathering dust. Many gave up, knowing in their heart of hearts that they’d failed and no one wanted to read their words.
That was a lie!
The world has changed. People began reading ebooks on their computers. Then ebooks had devices you could purchase, and now we have applications on our phones allowing everyone to read anywhere at any time. Books are being consumed on a daily basis, thousands and thousands of books are read every day. Dusty manuscripts have been exhumed and given new life. But even with the new avenues authors still experience the crippling lack of courage to write what they want to write.
My first attempt at writing was bad. I know I could never fix the story and make it readable. I have a couple of books on my computer that won’t ever see the light of day, but then I have a few books that aren’t what I normally write that I gave up on because of a rejection letter.
Yes, I gave up a good book all because of one rejection letter written by one person. That’s ridiculous.
Last week I realized it was stupid for me not to finish the book just because one person didn’t like what I had written. Why should I allow one opinion to matter so much? I’ve sat for 3 years on this book because though the editor said they loved the overall story, they didn’t like one facet of the book.
Not everyone is going to like what you write. Guess what, they don’t have to. You will receive reviews that are negative. I’m not talking about books that haven’t been edited or books that have extreme structural issues, but books that just aren’t someone’s cup of tea. Maybe the book isn’t long enough for the reader, or they don’t like one aspect of the story. That is their problem, not yours. Books can’t be everything to everyone. Don’t allow someone else’s hang-ups to steal your courage to write.
My daughter is a new author writing as Petra Levi. Convincing her to trust her voice, and her muse is difficult. I remember being a new author with a voice I didn’t trust, and a muse I thought was insane. Because I didn’t trust myself, those rejection letters really hurt. They were painful and I almost stopped writing.
Writing is tough. It takes courage to keep putting yourself out there, creating new stories for readers to devour. If you’re a new author, don’t give up. Just because one person doesn’t like space cowboys who ride mechanical horses and shoot laser cannons and then fall in love with shifter dinosaurs doesn’t mean no one else will like it.
Edit, and reedit. Take classes, learn about writing and life. Don’t sell yourself short by rejecting improvement. Reading books outside of your genre as well as reading in your genre helps to improve your stories. Even if you don’t write crime or thrillers, take classes geared towards those writers. Take classes and learn about paranormal writing or writing romance. Learn something new, and always move forward.
Don’t bend to the pressures trying to force you to stop creating. Gather your courage and write your book. No matter how weird, or strange, no matter how different than what’s out there, just write because people do want to hear your stories.