My last post, ‘Bad Reviews Suck. Why I Don’t Care,” here on BadRedheadMedia.com seemed to have hit a nerve. The comments have been involving and brought up some amazing points. I encourage you to take a moment to read it here (and the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Review –yay – picked it up, where the comments got quite heated. Worth a visit.)
Jumping off from there, I’d like to cover something different but related today: trusting your own vision.
Here are two examples of trusting our vision…I’d love to hear your own.
1. When I was part of a large crit group (of published and unpublished writers) recently, I received some varied feedback on the nonfiction work I am currently writing (FYI it’s my next book, titled Broken Pieces. The work is not humor like my previous books; it covers fear, desire, love, loss, and trust. I plan to release it in October.)
One of the members said that nobody would ever want to read ‘such depressing stuff’ and I should abandon my work, as it’s ‘not fit for publication.’ Being that he’s fairly successful, I took a second, third, fourth and fifth look at it. I even asked several other writers and editors for their opinion, and spoke with a Hollywood script doctor I know for feedback .
They all disagreed with him. Each one individually praised my work; the script doctor going so far as to say she wishes she could tap deep into her soul without fear and write this type of honest work.
Of course, I felt flattered and grilled them for what they didn’t like; but it also made me wonder: is anyone ever right? Is there a right and wrong when it comes to creating art?
It would be easy to say that guy was a jerk and the others amazingly astute, but I didn’t do either.
The argument right now is that self-published authors are releasing horrible crap into the poor, helpless creatures of the reading world. That we don’t know what we don’t know. That being turned down and rejected makes us better writers. That waiting years to be vetted by the traditional industry is still the only way to sell books.
Everyone has something to say. Here’s my point: trust yourself. You created a vision for your work. Stick with it. Do the best you can at all times. Give yourself permission to write/create without anyone else’s voice buzzing in your ear.
It took me awhile to get to this point. I’ve received some cruel, vitriolic reader reviews on both my books. And that’s okay. I still keep writing.
(For the record, I work very closely with a professional editor, proofreader, graphic artist and formatter on each book. I want to be sure what I put out there is quality so when the criticism comes, it’s not about mistakes; just that people think my writing sucks.)
As I said in my last post, not everyone will like my work. I take some satisfaction that professional reviewers like my books, and agents have contacted me since the release of both books wanting to work with me; but the fact is, I wrote my books without that feedback.
Point is, I haven’t let the positive or negative feedback affect my work. I just keep doing what I’m doing because it’s what I believe in.
Ultimately, trusting your own vision brings your work to light.
2. I have guest writers on my author blog, RachelintheOC.com every two weeks and I ask them to share an experience that shaped their lives. Many are hesitant to share at that level of honesty; others embrace the opportunity since they would never write that way on their own blogs/books. Some have revealed experiences they’d never spoken out loud before.
One friend thanked me for ‘giving her the permission’ she needed to write about a very serious topic. Her family knew nothing of it and it’s the first time she’d ever admitted to having been abused in her past. She’s now built up the courage to abandon her original book idea and write about her experiences instead.
This, above all, is why I’m honored: they could write about it all along. But giving them the forum to be honest with their vision allows them to write in a raw, honest way. I’m awed by their stories.
I often repeat my favorite writing quote from author Lorrie Moore: Write something you’d never show your mother or father. Many people cannot do that. It’s challenging to write this way. To not worry about what others will think or say – especially your own family.
But…it’s also incredibly freeing. We’re all grownups.
Me: I write about sex in my books. I have two kids. The jig is up.
My dad: How do you think you got here in the first place?
What are your thoughts on writing honestly and following your own vision? Please share your own experiences below.