There is nothing quite so appealing to a writer as the thought of being published. It is after all what most of us strive for. Few of us write with the plan of hiding our work away so that no one will ever read it. It is our hope to share it with others; to experience their joy in reading the words we painstakingly punched out upon the keyboard or scrawled upon countless sheets of paper. The sharing stage is perhaps the most vulnerable position a writer can put themselves in. Our work is after all a reflection of some portion of ourselves – our emotions, our experiences, our loves, our losses, our weaknesses, our strengths, our hopes, our disappointments. The list goes on. For a writer to present his or her work to the world is tantamount to presenting the soft underbelly to every and any passerby.
The unfortunate reality behind this daring dream to write and share with the world is that the place where creation and distribution intersect is a treacherous one and the paths themselves can be paved with enough pitfalls, challenges, and roadblocks to turn even the bravest among us into simpering little ninnies from time to time. It is a hard road to travel…..this road of writing; one that can feel impossible when first embarked upon. There are enough critics out there who will tell the wide-eyed dreamer there is no hope of success. This is true even for the most talented, steel-hearted writers among us.
When facing such hardships and such hopeless-seeming trials, it is easy to fall prey to advice that would tell the would-be writer to be something he or she is not. It doesn’t matter whether the well-meaning direction is to follow the current book trends by trying to create a work that is not the writer’s forte or by trying to reinvent one’s self by projecting a persona that is not real. Like trying to be edgy and crass when you are really filled with a soft nuggety center that cringes at the very behavior you are attempting to mimic.
Such disingenuous actions in my mind can be the death knell for the hopeful author who is just beginning to find their way. My reason for saying this is simple…..being something you are not is treacherous and darned near impossible to maintain in a consistent manner. Pursuing the path of a writer is hard enough without adding more self-made pitfalls in your own path.
Please understand I am not passing judgment on any who have taken such advice to heart in pursuit of their dreams. We all must do whatever it is we feel is best for us, but at the end of the day, when the world is silent, what then? Can you still recognize the person looking back at you in the mirror? Do you like what you see? If the answer to those questions is no, then perhaps seeking the road less travelled is the best course of action after all.
Duplicity takes energy which, for me, is better used in the creation of fantastical worlds, not in the recreation of a false image of one’s self. Just as time is a finite resource, so is the creative energy a writer has to dedicate to his or her craft each day. And trust me when I say, readers and fans can detect a phony. It may take time, but eventually they will see the chink in the proverbial mail. Far better that they fall in love with you for who you are, whether you be, in truth, the edgy, crass individual that makes dinner guests cringe with every word from your mouth or the soft, nuggety soul who tears up at pet commercials. That soft nuggety soul can still write a horror story that will keep the multitudes awake at night, and the edgy, crass individual still has the capacity to move men’s souls with the depth in his stories’ characters. Such contrasts can make the author more intriguing to the reading audience simply because it is real and different than what they expected.
No one said the path was perfect, nor did they say it would be easy. I struggle each and every day with the boulders that appear before me and the potholes that threaten my progress. My face is sore from the number of times I have fallen down and bumped it on the road I travel. The bumps hurt, and yes, there are times when I sit and wonder if the real ‘me’ is not enough. Then I look in the mirror and realize I can walk this road another day. My dreams mean everything to me, but not at the expense of myself.
It takes courage to be different….to be yourself, even when the world is telling you that you are not good enough. There will always be someone out there to find fault. There are over six billion people in the world. You are never going to please them all. In my mind though, there is only one person who truly matters and that is the person who is looking back at you in the mirror at the end of the day. If you are happy with what you see, then maybe it’s all worth it.
All I know is, today, I got a little farther down the path. A few more people know my name, and I am still writing. I haven’t given up. On a path that sees more attrition than just about any other career, I would say that is progress. And who knows. Perhaps tomorrow will be the big day. In a realm where everything is possible, it never hurts to hold on to big dreams. It is when you lay those dreams down and walk away that they cease to come true. So to all my writer friends out there….here is a silent prayer for you that today the path is straight and the way clear. For any others who have dreams that are ‘impossible’, never give up on them or yourself. The critics will never stop discouraging, it is true, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up either. Who knows, you might just beat the odds by tempting the fates and setting your own course.
If you liked what you read, don’t forget to sign up the blog through Google+ or by clicking the Join this site button. Also check out H.L. Stephen’s mystery series The Chronicles of Mister Marmee. Book 1 in the series is The Case of Jack the Nipper. Book 2 is The Case of the Wayward Fae. Book 3 The Case of the Monkey’s Misfortune will be released in the Fall of 2014.