Monday, 22 February 2016

New writer: are you deluding yourself? Am I?

I am that kid who always loved writing and making up stories, ever since she could write at all.

I am that kid whose teachers always swooned over her writing; the kid who was praised and flattered and told how talented she is.

I am that kid who, frankly, thought rather too much of herself for too long - the one who labored under the illusion that, as soon as she has it in her to churn out a full-length novel, agents and publishers will immediately swoop down on her and snatch her book up to glorious bestsellerdom.

I am not a kid anymore. I won't say how old I am, but two of my children are now old enough to write stories (which they do every day, to my great delight).  And I was no teenage mom, in case you are wondering.

And I joined these terrific writing communities on Wattpad and other websites, and was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people's literary efforts,  and by the brilliance of some of them. And I realized that I'm not a bad writer (no exaggerated self-humility here), but that neither am I that special and outstanding. And that a lot of people much more talented than I am never get published - because their work is a little quirky and doesn't precisely fit into a niche, because they don't have the right connections, because an editor somewhere up there decided their book isn't marketable enough and therefore not worthy dealing with on a commercial scale...

Oh, and a bunch of rejection notes from literary agents does wonders to sober one up, too.

I guess many writers come to this point, that of asking yourself, what do I expect? Is there any point in going on? Am I investing time, energy, thought, effort, hopes and dreams in writing books no one will ever read? Perhaps I just don't have what it takes, whatever it is, to succeed?

There is no definite answer, obviously. Nor can I offer any clever strategy except keep doing what you love (which, I assume, is writing), and try to do it in the best way you possibly can.

I will confess here I'm not a big fan of writing circles, writing support groups, writing workshops and guides such as Create a Gripping Plot in 8 Easy Steps (there are plenty of those out there on the web). I'm more into learning from the greatest, best (and often deceased) authors. Read good books; read them mindfully, not to copy, but to learn from them. Read; and write.