“Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” Bill Stout
When I first got serious about writing, I wrote with a goal in mind: publication. I worried about what my parents would think, how my family would react, what my grandmother would say. I wrote and rewrote scenes, trying to make them tame enough for my mother (translation: middle grade appropriate). I didn’t want my fourth grade English teacher to be disappointed in me for using curse words. I imagined that if the local paper did a review, it would say “this book is full of smut.” Most of all, I was afraid that my stories were terrible.
Fast forward about ten years (yikes!) to me while I wrote my first novel. I wrote thinking about publication and I was still scared. There is a lot to be scared of when you write. It’s like confessing your crush on Mr. Popular to your entire high school naked. But here’s the thing, if you live to write and it is all you truly want to do, then you have to shut out all the voices. Taylor Swift has taught us that the haters are gonna hate hate hate hate hate. They are going to hate whether you write or not. So don’t give those people any space in your head. When I write something that I am truly proud of, who cares what they say? Just shake it off! (I would like to formally apologize for that.)
My grandmother, a really important person in my life, died recently and my perspective totally changed. Instead of being afraid of what she might think, I was sad that she would never read my book. I was sad that I would never get to call her and say “Hey Grandma…guess what?” I had to let go of all my fears and insecurities. I think the universe was waiting for me to be truly ready to send my book out into the world because a couple of months later, I signed a contract. In a few months, my book will be out there for all to see and I’m a little scared. I just refuse to let that fear have any power.
My second novel is nearing completion. I’m totally proud of it because I ignored my hateful inner critic when I wrote. For the first time, I wrote without considering the hypothetical opinions of others, trends, or how it might be received.
My goals as a writer have changed as well. Instead of just writing with my eyes on publication, I write things that challenge me. I can’t grow as a writer if I don’t accept that challenge. So whether or not I write it well, I will write it bravely.