Writing is a very strange occupation. I’m not sure why anyone wants to do it. I’ll make it easy to understand – a writer spends hours, weeks, even years involved in a world that is totally made up by them. This place is so personal, and so damn interesting, to the writer that they put off chores, going outside, regular meals, conversations with real people, and sometimes give up really great opportunities to do something else, just so they can write down the things they make up in their heads.
Sounds ridiculous, huh?
Well, in a way it is, and in a way it isn’t. Books have really impacted my life. I’ve been entertained, taught lessons, and even been told (more than once) that I was okay, all by books. Writer’s want to do that, too. That is the only real goal of any writer – to have someone else read what they’ve written, and have it matter.
This need is no different than other human needs. We want to be loved, we want to be understood, we want to say something into the world and make things different with our voice. But it’s a big world, and our voices are very quiet.
And this brings me to the real reason I’m writing this post – rejection. I know, I’ve already touched on that. But I want to touch on it again, because there is more to say. When a writer is rejected, it can be for a number of reasons. Perhaps their writing isn’t good, or great, or perfect. Perhaps the story isn’t compelling. Perhaps the reader didn’t “connect” with the characters. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing personal,” they say.
But it is. For writers, this is us. This is our focus, our interest. These are our secret thoughts, the heroes we wished we were defeating the bad guys that we couldn’t beat ourselves. These are the adventures we’ll never take, the loves we’ll never experience, and the dreams that are dying in ourselves. When writer’s hear a “no,” it’s like that moment in school when all of your friends left in one moment, or when you weren’t good/fast/smart/pretty/funny/rich/cool enough to do whatever everyone else was doing. Writer’s only write for one reason – to give someone else something to enjoy. If they don’t enjoy it, then it is a failure.
So what then? We’ve all – us writers – had to face this moment. What do we do? Revise? Start over? Keep trying? Give up? The answer is different for everyone. There is a large dose of fate or luck in this endeavor, and many of us are perpetually unlucky. And it’s tempting to want to run into the corner and hide.
But this morning, something started becoming more clear. Writers – you and I – we are the readers, too. We are the ones who buy books, love stories, think about them every day and night, study other writers, and talk about books with our friends. I’ve bought more books than almost anyone I know, who isn’t a writer. I think we are in this together. Perhaps we should be a protected class. At the least, we should at least have our own club. We give each other support, and we help each other get to where we need to go. So I’ll be the first to say that I need help. I have a computer full of my stories, but they won’t live unless they are read. Maybe some need new shoes, others might need a haircut. Maybe some need to take a bath. But they are good kids, all of them, and I want them to be loved and accepted.
I think many of you know what I’m talking about. I would love to hear your thoughts. We are all in this together.
And I know I’m right, because a fellow writer Kristina Blackwell wrote about the same thing a couple of days ago, so I’m not the only one thinking about this. You can read her take here. And also check out her bone chilling writing here.