Writers paint in words. We use the world around us to create, and we create immense worlds. We aren’t constrained unless we let ourselves be constrained. We can take as much as we want, or as little, depending on the story that wants to be told.
We are in complete control. The only limitation is ourselves.
I was talking to a writer friend yesterday. There’s a person in her writing group who does not accept criticism of his work. Every word he writes is gold, every sentence glitters. In his mind he’s a writer, and everyone else, especially the reader, is always wrong.
I don’t have to spell out to you how toxic this is.
Earlier this week I followed a link to a writer’s published work. It was bad. The dialog was cringe-worthy. I honestly felt embarrassed for the writer.
How does stuff like that get past agents and editors? Seriously, how does it? So much for the vaunted gatekeepers.
But these are extreme examples. Most published writers are technically able to turn out a readable story. Readable, yes, but not memorable.
Or maybe the readers keep reading them because that’s the only option they have?
I have wrestled with this my entire life. I always try to challenge myself. If you follow this blog you know my peculiar philosophy. I’m not saying I am successful. I fail more often than I succeed, but I keep trying.
I love and respect writers who elevate their craft beyond the mundane. I like seeing genres grow out of their cliched roots and welcome new readers. That can’t happen unless writers are constantly challenging the status quo, however.
I don’t think I am alone in this. I believe most writers want to write well. I think they want to bring something new to the reader, and I believe the reader wants to be challenged and entertained.
But when writers take the safe path everyone loses, and the genre is watered down.
Then again maybe I am wrong about every blasted thing we have talked about today. Maybe writing is not art. Maybe it’s only a method to shovel thoughts and ideas down to the reader. But I don’t believe that in my heart. I don’t believe most writers think that way about their craft, and I don’t believe readers think that way, either.
Meanwhile, a lot of people are getting published.
But, by comparison, I am seeing fewer writers in the process.
So my advice, FWIW, is take a chance. Stand out. Separate yourself from the pack.
Look, if all you want to do is get published, if that is your goal…well, anyone can do that. Nowadays it’s not difficult. But if you want to be a writer? That’s something else altogether. You will have to work to accomplish that goal.
Trust me. It’s worth it in the long run. You won’t always be successful and there are never any guarantees, especially in this ego-shattering profession. But when you are able to pull it off….man, is it ever worth it.