(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?