Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Write What You Write

(Or how I learned to stop measuring myself against everyone else and love my book.)

I’m not like everybody else. I know that. They taught us way back in elementary school that everyone is different, and everyone has value. We learned that we should embrace what’s different in ourselves. Even as an adult, Oprah and the self-help gurus encourage us to love the parts of ourselves we’re inclined to hate - the things you can’t change - because they’re yours, and they make you you.

Most of the time I can do that. I’m a dork. I love sci-fi and British humor. (Hello Doctor Who!) I’m a grown woman who prefers books for teens. I went to a New Kids On The Block concert – last summer. I may have once been spotted dancing around my kitchen to a Justin Bieber song. (Although this is yet to be proven.) I hate chocolate. I’m me.

I write stories that are very me. Things that I want to read and that, for the most part, aren’t like what’s already out there.

But sometimes, when scanning the latest book deals, or beta-reading an awesome ms, I begin to doubt that my book has value. When I see the fourth werewolf trilogy to sell in a month or I look at those blurbs of mindblowing concepts about zombies and space ships and dystopian worlds and retellings set in futuristic locations and sweet quirky romances (all books I want to read) I think, why don’t I write stuff like that? Why don’t those ideas come to me? And then I think, no one will ever want my book when there are so many truly awesome ones out there. And then I put my ms aside and try to come up with my very own Zombie Apocalypse in Space Quirky Romance – with Werewolves. (Which I just came up with this second and am totally doing, so you can take that one off your list!)

It never works. Why? Because I’m trying to come up with someone else’s book. I can’t get passionate about the idea. I don’t feel true to myself.

And so it comes down to this: I can love my books because they're mine and work to make them the very best representation of the mashup between my skills and the crazy things floating around in my head. And then I can trust that if I put my passion into my work, other people will connect with it even if it doesn’t have werewolves in a dystopian spaceship falling in love with quirky girls during the zombie apocalypse. (Seriously, I’m going to write this. Back off.) OR I can sit at my computer, paralyzed by the fear that nothing I come up with will ever be good enough.

I choose to write. What do you choose? What do you do when it seems like everyone’s ideas are way cooler than yours?

8 comments:

Candyland said...

Yeah sometimes when I read something else I get discouraged. But I also choose to write. Because it'a a part of me:)

Meadow said...

I also feel some anxiety when I'm reading other good books and wonder whether mine will be up to par, or whether the current teen population will like it like they love the popular stuff out now.

But, like you, I just remind myself that my stories are different. My current MS is very much unlike anything I've seen out there. Who knows, maybe someone will pick up our books and think they won't write anything as good? :)

Valerie Kemp said...

So true Meadow! I always remind myself that some bestsellers were once ideas totally different from what was hot at the time. Hopefully that will be the case for us too!

bradmouth.com said...

I fight with this myself. I tend to comedy-action with fantasy elements. But I look on the landscape and, though these novels seem to get pub at the top, it doesn't appear to be "hot." Even getting five pages read is proving diffciult.

So as I hope to write another, I have to wonder--should I really write what I love or should I try and game the market?

In the end, you probably have to go with passion.

Nate Wilson said...

Due to the current popularity of vampires and werewolves and the paranormal, like many people I sometimes wonder if I should write for the masses. Then I remember I have no interest in those things (the first two, anyway), and that if I'm passionate about what I write, people will want to read it.

Then I give in, and insert invisible monkeys into my manuscript.

(Actually, I'm kidding about the monkeys; they're already in there.)

Demon Hunter said...

Valerie,

I am sooo with you on this. I think every writer goes through this, whether they'll admit it or not. I'm going through the same thing. It seems like everything out there is soo much better.

But--in the end--you just keep writing what makes you passionate and other folks will love it too. ;-)

Heather said...

It's a once a week battle for me. Just have to push through it and quit reading about the successes of others for a bit. Congratulate and move on sort of thing. Besides...if you are writing for the masses, then you'll probably never make it...not enough heart will go into it.

Natalia said...

I want to read this zombie apocalypse in space quirky romance. Seriously. Get on that thing. ;)

And I hear you on comparing yourself to the things that you read. It's hard to think that you can ever measure up against the things that inspire you, but if you thought you were as awesome as everything else....you'd probably never get any better.

Related Posts with Thumbnails