Happy New Year, Pubcrawlers!
I think we can all agree that 2016 blew pretty hard in a lot of ways. Though many of us experienced awesome things and achieved amazing goals, lots of things outside of our control went kablooey. For me, one of those things was my sense of my own writing. So I decided it was time to create a Writerly New Year’s Resolution.
As most of you know, I’m a writer in an addition to being an agent. This means I have been on the submission merry-go-round as both writer and agent, and while I have found that being on submission myself has been helpful to know what to expect for my own clients, I would be remiss if I did not admit that, even when you know what’s going on, being on submission with editors is nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing, and very often demoralizing. Writers are not known for their patience or calm (I can say this, because when I’m wearing my writing hat, I am neither of these things), which makes the fact that we endure this industry very strange, indeed. But when you’re a writer, and that’s what you have always known, what else could you possibly be expected to do with your life?
And yet, when faced with the reality of the industry, it is not quite that easy.
What I experienced last year, after being on submission twice, was a massive wave of self-doubt. I know many, many writers who have experienced this. Was I good enough to be writing? Should I write in other genres? Should I try to write more commercially? Should I do this, that, or the other thing? I tried to write what I wanted, how I wanted, while still appealing to the publishing professional inside of me that said, “this is how you must write to stay relevant”.
Then, the election happened, and something…. snapped. What I realized after the events of November, when most of us were feeling very strongly one way or the other, was that, in order to keep creating, it shouldn’t matter what genre or age group or whatever other considerations go into creating a publishable manuscript – what should matter, what has always mattered most, is writing for myself. And in a year when I, as an agent, will be looking for manuscripts that reflect the passion and fire of our collective emotions this year, I realized I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t try and bring that to my own work as well.
So this year, I am resolving to find my voice again. The voice that is just for me, the voice that reflects who I am as a writer and not who I, however subconsciously, believe the industry wants me to be. The voice that scares me, that inspires me to write stories that are difficult. I want to write the stories that are worth it for me. Because writing the story that is worth it to me, will, inevitably, be a story that is worth it for others too.
So! What are your Writerly Resolutions?