September 2, 2011

What It Really Takes

I have been thinking a lot the past couple weeks about the trials that authors endure on a regular basis, so I've decided to organize my thoughts into this post. Raise your glasses to the authors you know (and don't know) because they deserve a HUGE toast! Hats off to you all!

I think one common attribute that all writers share (well, at least at the beginning of their writing process) is a desire to write. We all start with that desire, but from there, many different challenges like to thwart our ambitions. Even before the daunting process of plot creation, a huge roadblock emerges.

"What if I'm no good?"

I call this the George McFly Syndrome. If you recall the movie Back to the Future, the young version of George McFly had major ambitions to create sci-fi stories, enough that he spent most of his free time scribbling feverishly in his notepads. However, the initial roadblock still hung over his head. When Marty reached across the table with no other intention than to relish in what his dad had been writing, George threw his arms around his hoard of paper and voiced this resonating dialogue.

"I never let anybody read my stories... What if they don't like them? What if they say I'm no good? I just don't think I can handle that kind of rejection."

This problem is very real for all writers. We spend years pouring our hearts and souls into our creation. Fragments of the most sensitive parts of our lives inevitably force their way into our literature, making them very personal. Let's not kid ourselves. We all have a little George McFly sitting on our shoulder, and rightly so. It hurts to have something so personal get rejected. That's why we need each other. No one truly understands what we give and sacrifice to write unless they've done it themselves. We have an unspoken understanding of each other.

Everyone has a different solution to overcoming this roadblock, but the fact is, we all need to overcome it at some point. This is where I believe the transition lies between writers and authors. It's not when our name appears on the cover of a book, or when we win a prestigious award. When we finally force ourselves to release our white-knuckled grip on our prized creations and purposefully give others the opportunity to tell us how much it sucks, that's when we truly "grow up." I raise my glass again to all who have endured this transition. You have more courage than Evel Knievel, more strength than Lou Ferrigno, more endurance than Lance Armstrong, more passion than William Wallace, and more faith than Gandhi.

Sometimes we write a keeper and sometimes we might as well burn the whole thing in a fire, but what really impresses me about authors is that we subject ourselves to this inexplicable torture over and over again. Why? Because writing is what defines us. We just can't help ourselves. More passion than William Wallace and more courage than Evel Knievel.

This is only the beginning for an author. Most of us want to be published and, therefore, start the daunting task of querying literary agents and publishers. If an author somehow makes it to this point without anyone telling them their literature needs improvement, they are in for a rude awakening. Doors will be slammed in our faces... over and over again. So what do we do? We send out more queries! More endurance than Lance Armstrong.

For those authors who choose to self-publish, there is still no escape from this painful criticism. Reviews will come in and some people will inevitably hate everything about what we've written. Or, what I believe to be even more painful, is silence. No reviews come. No one says anything. Thoughts start creeping into our heads, filling the void with negative criticism, yet we move on. More faith than Gandhi.

We can't do this by ourselves. We need each other. Writing leagues and online communities are valuable links to our sanity. We overcome our own pain by lifting each other. More strength than Lou Ferrigno.

You have believed. You have pursued. You have endured. You have overcome. You have conquered.

You are an Author.


J. A. Bennett said...

This is amazing and touching. Thank you for sharing these thoughts becasue really, no one knows until they've done it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Christina said...

Uh, is it weird to say that I think I might cry a little? Ha ha! Excellent post, hitting the nail squarely on the head. WHAM! George McFly might be my "density", but I still need to rid myself of him!

Roseanne's Spot said...

Well said, Terron!

Scott Bryan, Annabelle's scribe said...

Truer words…
Thank you for posting this. It touches deeply into the “never-say-die” and “writing-for-me” frame of mind that we all endure.

Tammy Neron said...

Hats off to you Terron. You are so awesome. I'm so glad I know you it makes me feel good that I know a author.

Anonymous said...

Very well written, thanks for sharing these thoughts.....

Mark said...

Great thought. The same sentiment could really be applied to any kind of art or other interests. Sharing what you have written, painted, drawn, composed, built, etc. shows a little bit of a person's inner-self that isn't necessarily apparent, even to friends or family who know the artist well.

Chas Hathaway said...

So true! I think it's especially hard for those who haven't had anything accepted by publishers or agents. But the acceptance game has totally different rules than the talent game.

Writing is 10% perspiration and 90% determination (or somewhere around that percent). It's true that the competition is high, but it's not so high that any author, determined to make it work, can't get their stuff fully into the publishing world. With the unlimited resources available today, there really is room for everyone, if they are just willing to keep fighting, be creative, and find the niche that works best for them.

Great post!


Thompson Family said...

Terron, I think you are a fantastic writer! And I hope you always keep doing it! This post was great!