Saturday, January 09, 2010

Be the candle

So here's a bit of advice for budding authors who have hit a certain kind of wall. That "I'll never be good enough" wall. That "I can't believe X wrote Such & Such and they were only 23 years old" wall. That "my god, what if this is the best I'll ever be?" wall.

Here it is: Let it go.

So what if you're not a genius? So what if Kirkus (the new zombie Kirkus that wants to snub your braaaaains) thinks you're a hack? So what if editor after editor tells you your characters aren't likable or that your plots are too simple or that they've seen this kind of story too many times? (Those are some of my favorite rejections right now.) So what?

In 200 years, Barry Manilow will be forgotten. But for a certain generation, his jingle "I'm stuck on Bandaid (TM) cause Bandaid's stuck on me!" will never leave their heads.

In 50 years, Taylor Swift will be reminding her grandchildren that she paid for their college tuition because she was famous, damn it! But when I am on my deathbed, I will still be able to sing the chorus of "You Belong With Me".

Piers Anthony will never be a part of the literary canon, but I will always refer to that lake in Florida as "Ogre-chobee". Dean Koontz will never win a Nobel Prize, but I will never forget the creatures he created in Watchers. Tamora Pierce might fall short of a Pulitzer, but she changed the course of my entire life.

What I'm trying to say is that writers are artists. And artists have the job of being a candle in the darkness. You don't have to be the biggest candle to be the brightest thing in the Eastern Washington desert. You just have to be seen by that one person hungry for a gleam.

So be the candle.

If you keep writing and striving, the other stuff will take care of itself a little at a time. You'll find a publisher, no matter how big or small, that will be the right place for your work. Your skills will get stronger. As long you keep writing, keep pushing to create and share an artistic vision, you will be lighting up the darkness.

And if the winds batter you on the open steppe, you've got people like me around to come over with a book of matches.

7 comments:

Christie said...

Thanks, Wendy, just what I needed right now. <3

Dave Bara said...

Very cool wendy, and well said.

db

Winnie said...

Thanks guys--I think it was what *I* needed to hear, really.

Lance said...

I think it's what a lot of people need to hear. Thanks for saying it.

Oh, and I've got a lighter around here someplace if you need it.

kristina said...

I can't think of anyone better than you to be my own little "firestarter" - in fact, I think I may have to make up a nickname for you based on that very thing. As soon as I feel artistic enough to come up with something artistic and nicknamey and worthy of you. <3 u!

Derek M. Koch said...

Very well written, and something I might bookmark and come back to if/when I run into the inevitable writer's block this year with my own writing goals!

Wendy said...

Thanks, BrotherD--let's hope you won't need it!