Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It Doesn't Matter If No One Believes In You

It really doesn't. I'm lucky because I now have someone in my life who does believe in me, and that's a blessing. But for years and years I did not. And yet I wrote like my life depended on it, publishing magazine and newpaper articles and working on tons of other projects. And I'm still standing here, working hard on my WIP, a YA fantasy novel that I hope to publish by 2012. Would it be great to have been considered a child sensation, publishing my first book at the age of 15? Would it have been incredible to have sparked bidding wars over the diary I kept while writing my first bestseller? Sure. Is it necessary? No.
Because what it comes down to is how you feel about yourself. And your writing. There are plenty of published writers who get all the accolades in the world but who, at the end of the day, feel as though they're frauds. I remember a story a friend of mine told me about a relatively famous writer who will go unnamed. Writer X, a well-known crime/mystery novelist, was a good friend of his family's. He'd sold millions of books in his career and had legions of fans.
Great, right? Not so, at least not for Writer X. You see, X was tired of churning out mystery novel after mystery novel, having done so for over 20 years and, in the end, finding himself, against his will, pigeon-holed by his publisher. He felt like a hack and yearned to break free, to write something of "substance."
Lots of people believed in him, gobs of folks bought his books, yet where did it get him?
Which is to say that it wouldn't much matter if even Mahatma Gandhi himself, reanimated by a secret Army experiment deep in the heart of the Congo, slipped free from his captors, booked a flight to your hometown, and laid palm fronds before you as you walked. If you didn't believe in your heartiest of hearts that you were writing what really mattered to you, you'd lose respect for Frankenstein Gandhi.
Look: it's probably a good sign that not a ton of people are throwing themselves at you. It's cool to strike a nerve and have everyone talking about your work (I'm guessing), but again, it's not necessary in order to live a satisfied life.
No one will get what you're doing until you've published it. And even then, even if Virgil found a wormhole from his dimension and slipped through time and space and, on his way back to Rome, took a pit stop in your backyard and then, upon landing, he read your book and declared, "I hereby give my mantel of greatest poet of all time to you" and literally took his gold metal of poetry from around his neck and put it on you--even then, if you didn't like your own book, who cares about the gold metal of poetry?
Don't listen to anyone else but your own inner writerly voice. Trust it. If it tells you that your book is on the right track even though no one else likes it, stick with it. Because everyone has moments of doubt. It's those who push through that doubt who reap the rewards.


  1. I think you're right on the money here. If you're a writer, you'll write, period. It certainly does help to have a little cheering section though, as long as they're telling you the truth and not just blowing smoke up your skirt.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. It's great to have people rooting for you, but you can't even count on them always being there. I believe that you have to write for yourself and hope that others will like it, but not bank on it. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Spot on - having a cheerleader is important (preferably an empathetic one), but cultivating your own inner support is huge too - not just in writing, but in everything.

  4. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Just what I needed today.
    Rubbing my grubby mitts over your words and looking forward to diving in to more - after I write what I want to write today.


  5. @Heather, I think that's part of the maturation process as a writer. When I was younger I felt bad that no mentor took me under their wing. But now I feel like I dodged a bullet because had I had a mentor, I worry that I would've tried to write to satisfy them. Thanks for your comment!

  6. @Jennifer, I'm glad to be of service. I hope you like the blog and find something of value here; a lot of these posts are as much me talking to myself, trying to motivate myself, as they are trying to help others. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your writing!

  7. No problem, Carl. The main thing to remember is you're not out to prove anything to anyone other than yourself, and your writing will be awesome. Good luck!