This is my story. There are many like it but this one is mine.

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I’ve always been a panderer.  In second grade when we first started writing stories with beginnings, middles, and ends, I would write what I hoped my classmates would like. Also—because I was an attention whore, a trait (I think) I have since cast off—I wrote what I thought my teacher would most likely ask me to read aloud to the class. I liked telling stories. I wanted to tell them. So I wrote for the “popular market” of my second grade classmates. And it worked. My teachers let me read out loud. My classmates laughed at “the funny parts.” And I felt like a phony.

This continued throughout my burgeoning “career” as a writer. For contests, I wrote things that I thought the judges would like, as opposed to submitting work that I’d already written that I thought fit with the theme. And it worked. I won. I got money. My name was in anthologies. I was a successful panderer.

But I wasn’t happy with my writing. When I wrote my first novel—which I am currently shopping—I made certain decisions that I thought would be popular. Themes, word choices, scenarios. It was the book I wanted to write, but elements of it were pander-y. (Yes, pander-y.) And not only was I unhappy with its quality, readers weren’t connecting with those parts. When your voice is missing, it doesn’t go unnoticed. The novel has since changed in a myriad of ways, and I have slowly begun to feel as if it is truly the story I intended to write.

So my lesson, dear readers <Mother Goose voice>, is what I think tons of literary agents would echo: write the book YOU want to write. And, by extension, don’t write for trends. Kinda like the Rifleman’s Creed, but the Writerwoman’s Creed: “This is my story. There are many like it but this one is mine.” This one is yours. Make it count.

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8 thoughts on “This is my story. There are many like it but this one is mine.

  1. You go woman! Teach!

  2. miriamscody says:

    Whenever I start to get the fear, that feeling of self-judgement and carefulness that keeps me from writing uninhibited, I think of Hunter S. Thompson, whose confidence (arrogance?) about his words always seemed to overrride any self-consciousness. Writing is about a higher consciousness than self.

  3. jhshugs says:

    Just the fact that you have been able to put a voice your voice in print has always impressed me. I hope some of the poetry I read years ago had more of you in it than pander-y stuff. And your boot diatribe too.

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