by Tawny Weber
I attended an RWA chapter meeting recently that featured three published authors, sharing their journey. Not so much their journey TO publication, although that was included, but their journey AFTER publication. The three are all awesome writers, I've been lucky enough to have books by them all. But they, their writing, and their journeys couldn't be more different.
And yet... the core message each of them shared was the same. Its all about being true to ourselves and our writing. What a fabulous message (and yes, one we've all heard before, but it hit home so hard for me that I'm sharing anyway *g*). I'm using writing as the general comparison here, but I really believe this message can apply to anything you do.
I remember how important it was, when I was starting out, to learn to weed through the masses of information to find what worked for me. Oh sure, some stuff is general. Grammar isn't fluid, and manuscript formatting is... well, formatting. But the important things like voice, style, the message I bring to my work... I had to find those and, once I did, make sure I was true to them.
Of course, as the ladies at the meeting pointed out, there are always people who want to refocus us. Before we're published, it could be contest judges (nobody is buying THAT or I hate this kind of story, you'd do better if you learned to write XYZ, etc) or critique partners (similar feedback as contest judges, but we actually TRUST the CPs) or even editors and agents we're submitting to. After we sell, it doesn't change much. Except now we've got reviewers and readers with suggestions, and the stakes and fears get a little higher. There is, as one Christine blogged about the other day, the question of writing the same thing or changing it up. There is the pressure of writing to the market or writing, as Kirsten said in her comment to Christine, writing the story that's inside you.
How do you sift through it all and come out feeling like you made the right choices? Thats what I learned in this talk -simply be true to yourself and your writing. Always (here's where that general non-writing specific stuff comes in *g*) know, when you're done with the book, job, task, that you did your best. That you're proud of it and know, if a fifty foot flashing billboard proclaimed this was YOU and your work, you'd be proud. That way, no matter what happens as a result (for instance, it took me six manuscripts before I sold...but I'd gladly share any one of the earlier ones with pride) would you know you did your best.
And if you're lucky, along the way you find people who get you. Who want to support you being yourself and keeping your writing true. Like, hmm, say the Romance Bandits? I'm sure none of us thought we had much in common when we all got those calls in March of 2006. And yet, here we are... Twenty diverse, empowered and strong writers, all heading in different directions, but going down the same path. Together.
So... nothing new here, I realize, but it was my first big OOOoooooohhhh moment of the year and I wanted to share it!
How about you? If someone took out that huge bilboard to highlight one of your recent accomplishments, which one would make you beam with pride?