Thursday, April 28, 2016
No Fools Category For You
In my opinion, this quote has pros and cons to it. Anne Rice is right in that, when we write something for publication, we risk having critics come down on our heads like a flock of angry pigeons. Perhaps even laugh at us. We also take the chance that there will be lots of readers who like what we've written.
We have all learned by now that it is impossible to please all people all of the time. Why even give that a second thought? Well, guess what? We often do. We want to write books or stories, essays, poems and more that give something to the reader, that bring pleasure to the reader, that makes the reader seek more of our writing.
To write something and have an editor/publisher accept it for publication is the first sign that maybe you have not made a fool of yourself. If our writing makes it past the gaggle of editors, it should mean it's great. Right? Probably but not a definite. Add to the mix that self-publishing is becoming more widespread and you know that some of those publications may not measure up to good writing.
Many are just plain wonderful, but I fear that too many beginners grab the first story they've ever written and attempt to self-publish, aiming to be the next John Grisham or Danielle Steele.
I would hope those writers would do two things: 1. Give themselves time to write several books or stories before publishing one. We, who have written for any number of years, know that we learn as we go and that, nearly always, our work gets better as we continue writing. 2. Seek out other writers to critique the writing. Look for ones that will be brutally honest because you should truly want to know if what you've written is publication worthy. (Close friends and family are not good people to choose for this job. They love you, so they will not say anything to hurt your feelings.)
If you're in too much of a hurry, you do risk making a fool of yourself. Regular readers here know that one of my keywords for writers is patience. I cannot stress enough how important that is in your writing journey. For a little self-test, go through your files and read several of the very first things you wrote. Then read your latest. What do you think? Did you cringe a bit when reading those early missives? Most of us would. It's a rare writer who is the perfect writer straight out of the chute. Most of us improve greatly as we write more and more. And that's the reason we are told to write on a regular basis--something every day if possible.
If you're a writer who thinks you don't need a critique group or a writing buddy who will read your work and offer honest feedback, think again. Doing either of these is one of the greatest benefits a beginning writer, or even an intermediate, can have. Others look at our work with objective eyes. They see beyond what we see when we read our own work.
No one wants to risk looking like a fool, so do what it takes to make sure you're not going to have that happen to you. You know that not every person will love what you write but that's different than having them laugh at you. Don't let the risk of being the fool stop you from writing. Just take careful steps along the way.