The Truth About Writing

Once upon a time, I thought one had to be slightly narcissistic even to attempt to be a writer. I mean, really…

Let me put all my best thoughts into writing and wait for the masses to applaud my witty, heart-wrenching, marvelous depiction of the way things are or were or might yet be. Because, as all of humanity will soon discover, I have the most unique view of the world and the most developed grasp of the human language EVER…

So maybe I overstated that. A recent article, The Importance of Being (Slightly) Arrogant As a Writer, suggests there may be some truth in what I just wrote, but it isn’t the whole story.

The rest of the story – the part we might not like to admit – is that somewhere in the middle of the hard work, persistence, arrogance, and insanity lies a thing called guts. By guts, I mean the courage to throw everything on the line, over and over and over again, knowing that we’re going to be overlooked, rejected, crushed… and no amount of reminding ourselves how many agents passed on J.K. Rowling is going to make us feel better. Not really.

Yes, writing takes courage, and a great deal of it, too. We must be vulnerable, opening ourselves up to rejection, and we must have the courage to rise and try again when all we get for our efforts is a form letter stating that we “aren’t the right fit.”

What makes it so hard to acknowledge this part of the process is that in admitting the necessity of guts, we admit our fears that our writing stinks, that our stories are unoriginal, that our efforts were in vain, that our darlings don’t deserve life. Nobody wants to admit all of that.

I’m admitting it tonight, though. I’m also mustering every last ounce of guts, compiling a list of agents, and polishing my query letter.

Because I’m just arrogant enough and just gutsy enough to keep at it till some amazing agent falls in love with my manuscript.

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