This isn’t what I planned to blog about today. But it’s something that’s been on my mind, and an unrelated conversation among YA Highwayers made me think about it more.
Sometimes I think it’s really scary to own your writing. To own your genre and your style and everything about it. First of all, because to say “hey, I’m good at writing,” feels like an arrogant thing to say—even if it isn’t—and also because you don’t want to say it, and then have your friends beta for you and learn that they think your writing is godawful.
But not it’s not only hard in the general sense, but on a more specific level, too. You feel like if you tell other writers that you write big books with big plots and action and all the things that supposedly mean giant paychecks,* they will think you write books like that just in hopes of cashing in on a trend. Or if you tell them you write commercial, they’ll think you mean you don’t care about your prose. Or if you tell them you write literary, they’ll think you’re one of those people who sit in Starbucks pretending to write while actually just proclaiming to everyone that you are writing a Very Important Novel.
But you know what? Forget all of that. We need big books and we need quiet books. We need literary and commercial and in-between. We need books that make us cry and books that make us laugh.
You’ve done the work, you’ve written a book. Published or not, it’s a huge accomplishment. Don’t downplay it. If it’s literary, tell people it’s literary. If it’s an epic dystopian where humans are being kept in pens by genetically engineered moose who’ve grown too smart, own it!
Writing is hard and it’s filled with insecurities; especially if you’re writing to be published, because you’re going to have a lot of people tell you it’s not good enough,** and that’s hard to hear. But the first step to overcoming those insecurities is to be proud of your writing, and not to belittle it when discussing it with others. Chances are, it, and you, are awesome.
*You guys all know this isn’t true, right? I mean, for a few it happens that way, but writing speculative fiction is no guarantee that you’re going to get a deal of this magnitude, and in fact, the odds are very much against it.
**This goes for everyone. Even those people who seem to get agents and then book deals in the blink of an eye still have to face book critics, reviewers and readers, who are often not nearly so tactful as agents or editors when explaining why they dislike something.